The members of the 2020 and the 2022 cohort of Obama Leaders Europe program met in Copenhagen between 9th-11th June to network and to share thoughts about social change and democracy. The group was joined by president Obama for a discussion about leadership and the main challenges of democracy. Written by András Nyirati.
Almost 50 young leaders from around Europe met finally in person, after months of online workshops. President Obama joined the group after delivering closing remark on the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2022 for an evening reception and on the next day for small group workshops and a plenary discussion.
Perhaps surprisingly, the longest conversation was about confidence. How leaders know that they on the right path, if they are making the right decisions. Everybody shared stories about how vulnerable they felt in some situations. President Obama shared that
You also need to have a good team, to know your goal, to follow your values and to asses at the end what happened, what you managed to achieve. If we pay attention to these, there is no reason not to be confident.
There was also a vivid discussion about life-work balance. Of course social change is a very important thing and it can be done in 24/7, but we need changemakers who are alive for a long time. However president Obama’s opinion was that there is no prefect balance. As a leader you go through unbalanced times in your life, like a wave, sometimes you succeeded to find more equilibrium sometimes you fail.
The second half of the day was a plenary discussion about four key challenges or hot topics of democracy in the 21st century, populism, disinformation, diversity and big tech. Of course there was no time to find the solutions for the challenges of our generation, but we had some good points which can be useful starts. For closing our joint work president Obama delivered a really inspirational speech. The main thought which I brought home with myself is that:
András Nyirati, the president of the Power of Humanity Foundation was among the 36 emerging leaders selected to join the Obama Foundation Leaders Europe program.