Right Brain/Left Brain President
Barack Obama's Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It
by Mary Lou Décosterd, PhD
April 2010, 169pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38072-3
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38073-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A “left-brain” leader is methodical, logical, and adept in analytical thinking. A “right-brain” leader is intuitive, subjective, and a creative thinker. The former is objective and sees details; the latter is tuned to the emotional and sees the big picture. Barack Obama is that rare individual whose experience, education, and thinking style enable him to be a true right brain/left brain president—and an ideal leader.

This intriguing analysis examines an aspect of President Obama that falls outside of his ethnic background, his political career, or policies: how his unique leadership style comes from his extraordinary ability to use both halves of his brain to maximum potential.

Right Brain/Left Brain President: Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It is an inspirational guide to leadership as it should be practiced, conveyed through an up-close look at the man who sets the new leadership bar. Author Mary Lou Décosterd uses her Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model to frame Barack Obama’s leadership skill sets. Her book shows that Obama’s unique brand of leadership is the result of his extraordinary ability to leverage full-brain potential in the ways he thinks, decides, and acts.

Right Brain/Left Brain President examines Obama’s life and the Obama phenomenon, analyzing how he rose to prominence so quickly and what that teaches us. The president is used as an example of the ten full-spectrum behaviors—the must-have leadership skills—that make one an extraordinary leader. To help readers emulate the Obama model and become the most consummate leaders possible, Décosterd discusses how each of us can learn to lead from both right and left brain abilities.


  • Provides a chronology of President Obama's life, key influences, and critical moments as they relate to his current leadership traits
  • Presents two key, original models, the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model and an Energy Model, both critical frameworks for driving leadership success
  • Offers an extensive bibliography on leadership and leadership brain science
  • Includes excerpts from President Obama's most defining, first-year-in-office addresses, interviews, and press conferences
Mary Lou Décosterd, PhD, is founder and managing executive of The Lead Life Institute, LLC, a learning consultancy offering programs and services to help executives, leadership teams, and organizations become their best. She is the author of the Praeger title Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and a children's book, Magical Max Makes Friends. She has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development, applied psychology, university teaching, and organizational training. Her areas of expertise include leadership and interpersonal development, implementation and execution, women's executive development, cultural and team alignment, anxiety and stress management, attitude and motivation, strategic change and mediation. Décosterd works as an executive coach to leaders and leadership teams and as a facilitator, trainer, and speaker in both the profit and nonprofit sectors.


"Barrack Obama uses logical and analytical thinking as well as intuitive and creative thinking in his leadership style. This book combines ideas from neuroscience and leadership studies with many excerpts from Obama’s speeches and interviews, using Obama’s leadership skill set as an example of the right brain/left brain leadership model developed by the author. Focus is on four different sets of traits: strategic, innovative, transformative, and engaging leadership traits. The book gives background on how the brain is structured for right- and left-brain leadership engagement, then looks at how Obama’s personal background enables him to engage both sides of his brain with ease, and provides readers with tools and steps for using the same leadership approaches. Décosterd is a leadership consultant and executive coach."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2010

"Décosterd gets it! After 8 years of George Bush’s 'go-it-alone cowboy' policies, Obama’s measured, balanced leadership style has reestablished America’s place in the world, and given us a renewed optimism for the future that has not been seen since the glory days of Kennedy’s Camelot. This is a must-read book for leaders in all sectors- public and private – who want to be successful, while still maintaining their integrity."—Peter M. Landau, Retired Health Insurance Executive

"A fitting follow up to her book, Right Brain/Left Brain President: Barack Obama's Uncommon Leadership Ability, and How We Can Each Develop It, Mary Lou Décosterd has given us further insight into a true example of a leader who exemplifies and defines the Right and Left Brain concepts. This book contains practical ideas and application tools that show how leaders can continue to develop our own skill sets following this path."—Jennifer M. Ogle
Manager, Corporate Employee Relations
Armstrong World Industries

"Dr. Décosterd builds upon her terrific work in Right Brain/Left Brain President by examining President Obama. Her thoughtful, yet practical, case study provides a unique opportunity to capture the essence of core leadership behaviors."—Sean R. Stegall
City Manager
City of Elgin, Illinois

"This is a fascinating study that blends science with observation to form the first genuinely insightful book on our 44th president. Not since Lincoln, whose style President Obama clearly resembles, has a president captivated a nation with the possible exception of John Kennedy. It is interesting that Kennedy was also considered to be a 'right brain/left brain' individual as this field of brain lateralization was just getting serious. I recommend this book strongly for history and science lovers alike."—Joseph A Flaherty MD
Dean, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, Urbana, Peoria, Rockford and Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health

"In Right Brain, Left Brain President, Mary Lou Décosterd has written an insightful analysis of the complexities of leadership as examined through a model of one of the most impressive leaders of our times - President Barack Obama. This is an important book that should be read by corporate executives, public officials and community leaders alike. I learned a lot about my own leadership style and commend the book to anyone who has responsibilities for leadership, whether on a macro or micro scale." —Annette Kelton
Corporate Executive
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