In this election year, the attention of the media and of the voters has turned increasingly to issues of leadership.

Leadership is a difficult role, requiring knowledge of the tasks of the organization and a wide variety of organizational skills, including an ability to inspire support, to select and manage subordinates, and to work with critics. Self-knowledge, emotional stability and awareness of one's narcissistic tendencies are also essential.

In addition, the leader's political support inevitably involves a close communicative and emotional relationship between himself and his followers, a kind of emotional duet that sets up the expectations and constraints on him.

Barack Obama came into office on a great wave of hope and expectation, reflected in such slogans as "Yes We Can," "Change You Can Believe In" and "Hope and Change." He was seen by some as a messiah who would rid us of a faltering economy, bitter and divisive internal quarrels over foreign wars, and the general sense of things gone wrong.

Many felt that as the first black president, he also embodied the ideals of equality and opportunity so central to our national ethos.

But things go bad when messianic hopes are unfulfilled. As he assumed office, Obama was faced with a severe economic crisis, and he made some grandiose promises such as: "If I don't have this (economic recovery) done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

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