Valerie June Bowman Jarrett is an American official at the White House serving as the senior advisor to the President. She was born in November 1956. Her father being a pathologist and geneticist worked in a children’s hospital in Shiraz but when she was five years sold they moved to London (News.uchicago.edu, 2015). They later moved back to Chicago in 1963 where she grew up. She is a lawyer from Chicago and a successful businessperson and served as a co-chair of the Obama- Biden Transition Project (Klein, 2015). Despite her impressive background of expertise and professional success, she is widely attacked due to her family history and the Obama administration faced criticism for hiring her to her current role. She was born in Shiraz, Iran to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. Her grandfather Robert Robinson Taylor was credited with being the first African American architect. Her long family tree of communist parents and grandfather is a factor that brings concern among some of the critics to the Obama administration (News.uchicago.edu, 2015). Moreover, she is Barack Obama’s closest and most influential advisor due to the strong ties that Obama has with her family owing t the fact that her father was the early mentor to Obama. After bringing a revolutionary Communist Van Jones into the Administration, a majority of her critics used that to accuse further her of being a radical extremist. However, what was more damaging was her family’s linkage to communism with a report from Judicial Watch that examined FBI documents relating her family to hardcore communism. Her father, grandfather and later her father-in-law were all linked to communism in some reports.
Below is an evaluation of Valerie Jarrett’s behaviors using the Five Practices of Effective Leaders by Kouzes and Posner:
1. Model the Way
Despite the challenges that face her due to her family background of communism, Valerie remains an active and well-respected leader not just in the business world but also on the political scene. She is highly credible and acts with great charisma as she has successfully worked in an official capacity having been the deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley (Robert, 2014). Her ability to put her personal feelings and focus on her task is one fundamental value that she posses. It is an integral part of good leadership for every successful leader. She can respect the president and works with diligence despite the fact that they are close friends at a personal level and can dispense her duties.
Credibility is an essential part of any leadership because; it leads to increased trust in the leader’s ability to deliver. Valerie’s credibility demonstrated in her previous leadership roles makes her a trusted advisor to the present even in the midst of opposition facing her appointment.
2. Inspire a Shared Vision
Valerie can inspire shared vision among the people she leads, and it is this that has made her a force to reckon with having served in various advisory roles and as a board of director in different companies. Her commitment to empowering women and girls as the chairing the White House Council on Women and Girls is emphasized by the kind of mentorship she offered Tom Michelle Robinson that is currently the first lady Michelle Obama. Upon meeting her in 1991 when she was the deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley and interviewed her for a job, she hired Michelle (Robert, 2014). She connected Michelle and her fiancé Obama to various wealthy and better-connected individuals in Chicago setting the stage for their careers. Even upon leaving the mayor’s office to head Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Valerie took Michelle with her and mentored her further to a successful woman she is now. She held a vision for the American women and girls, and she used her position and her vision to model the success of the ladies which is an essential element of good leadership.
3. Challenge the Process
Against a backdrop of allegations of being a communist due to her family background, Valerie remained a strong and served in her role without fear. Her challenge to the process and also risk taking tendencies were demonstrated when she actively supported the appointment of Van Jones to the newly position of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Jones was a known activist; many termed him as a radical, and, therefore, was at risk supporting him since she related to the appointment by Obama and was thought by critics to be an attempt to strengthen her radical nature as well. She actively supported Jones and was convinced that he was the best for the role. She is credited with a high-risk decision made by the president that is an indication of her ability to challenge process and take risks as leaders.
4. Enable Others to Act:
Valerie has been one of the most trusted advisors to Obama, and the president consults every decision and seeks for her advice. However, she is always seen to let the president speak and act on his own. She plays her role as an advisor and corrects the president in incidences he goes wrong but then sets the stage and lets the president play his part; she enables him to act and do things through her advice as is expected of every leader. In 2009, she urged President Obama to clean up some remarks he had made regarding the Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates’s arrest. She felt that the comments were disrespectful to the police and hence pleaded with him to clean them up. She did not take up the initiative or go over the president to make the clean up as she thought was necessary but allowed the president to do so on his own. She wanted to ensure that she maintains the collaboration between the police and the administration thus acted in a way to facilitate the relationship.
5. Encourage the Heart
Valerie identified the potential in Michelle Obama when she was just starting her career and decided to nurture the potential she saw in her. She offered her a job at the mayor’s office and even introduced her to wealthy and influential Chicago bosses that set the pace for Michelle and Obama’s careers. She exuded her ability to identify and reward those that deserve it. In fact, when she left the mayor’s office for another bigger position, she did not leave Michelle behind and moved with her to demonstrate her confidence in her ability and to nurture her to model her to a successful career woman.
Valerie Jarrett adopts a transformational leadership style. It is because she is not limited or follow the perception of the people but focuses on giving results. Despite the opposition of her appointment and the expectation that she will not thrive the political pressure mountain against her, she has focused on her role and not on the perception of others. She has relentlessly worked as the president’s advisor to change transforms the follower’s needs and systems of thinking (Axelrod, 2015). She challenges and takes risks in an attempt to inspire and challenge the American public and others that she leads. Her ability to take a risk and also challenge the public was demonstrated in her active support of Van Jones whom the public perceived as unfit to serve in the position due to his communist system of thinking. She has also been brought up with a communist background, and yet that has not deterred her from serving the democratic system in the United States.
Some of the strengths that Valerie may have include:
• Maximizer. She can focus on strengths of herself and that of others as a way to stimulate personal as well as group excellence. She indicates relentless attempts to transform the strength of institutions and other bodies to something even better and stronger. She goes out of her way to ensure maximization of the people’s and organization’s potential.
• Relator. She enjoys close relationships with others and exudes the deep sense of satisfaction in working hard with friends to attain a goal. Demonstrated in the way she made friends with Michelle and Obama and closely worked with them up the ladder. She maintains a close relationship with the president and the First lady as she executes her mandate as the advisor to the president.
• Analytical. She posses the Analytical theme as she continually searches for reasons and causes. Her ability to about all the factors and situations that might affect a situation are her strong points as she executes her mandate as the president’s advisor. Her analytical strength was demonstrated when she convinced the president to retract his words following a statement from the police during the arrest of Harvard’s Professor Henry Louis Gates. She thought that the statement might have offended the police and hence the need to correct the situation.
Valerie Jarrett is an influential individual in the White House over the president Obama’s tenure as president. She is the most trusted advisor to the president despite the abject criticism she faced right from her appointment to the position due to her family’s linkage to communism. Some critics assert that she is a radical, but her transformational leadership style has been of great importance to the administration over the years. Her analytical, relater and maximize strengths have gone a long way at assisting her dispense her mandate at the White House. She is, therefore, an iconic transformational leader that asserts the power and the ability of the modern day woman to take a position and execute her duties amidst political and social storms against her.