Previously I wrote about my "Northwest Strategy" philosophy. The idea is that any organization is better off when a CEO or other type of leader clearly decides on a course, one that is directionally correct while perhaps not perfect (hence the term Northwest), and then relentlessly pursues that direction, communicating it clearly, effectively, and repetitiously so that his followers have clarity, line up appropriately, and make consistent decisions on their own. This organization can achieve a tremendous amount. If the final targeted destination requires a mild correction when the goal is near, that can be done--again with clarity and repeated communications.
The antithesis is the leader who continues to try new ideas, has new and different thoughts, throws out trial balloons, changes his mind: always searching for the perfection of a true North strategy. While it may seem to him that striving for this perfection is totally appropriate and a worthy goal, along the way his followers lose confidence, get frozen, react differently to these mixed signals, typically initiate infighting, and stand around with confused looks on their faces. Few are willing to make any decisions because they don't know if today's grand strategy will be the same as yesterdays.
So this week we have another clear, this-time-public example of the benefits of a Northwest Strategy and all it's accountrements; and an equally clear demonstration of the problems resulting from a constantly changing message. Obama's campaign epitomized the consistency of purpose, clarity and continuity of communications, and steadfastness of direction. McCain's did not. Obama inspired many and grew in presidential stature by the approach he took, McCain created confusion in his ranks and among his followers, confusion which continues to this day. Some people voted for Obama even though they didn't agree with his policies, viewing his presence and consistency as unassailable virtues.
You can learn many aspects of leadership from this campaign, and from many other daily life events. Apply the same principles you would wish to have applied to you.