Different people will have different opinions about his politics, but I think everyone has to admit that Barack Obama knows how to get people to follow him (otherwise he would still be State Senator Obama, and not President Obama). To rise from where he was to where he is in such a short period of time...his skills in this area are once-in-a-generation.
By definition, leaders must have followers, therefore Obama must be considered one of the greatest leaders of my lifetime.
How does he do it? As a startup CEO, I need to know how to be a leader / attract followers.
One of the most illuminating moments of the presidential campaign was in the primary debate with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, the question was posed to each "If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today, who would he endorse?" Clinton and Edwards gave the stock answers of why Dr. King would support them, blah, blah, blah. Obama delivered an answer that skewered his opponents (without intentionally meaning to), and crystallized his leadership style, and I believe identified the single reason why he ultimately won the election. Below is the 60-second clip of his answer:
He is that leader who makes the people following him truly believe that he is simply the vehicle that they use to accomplish their objectives. It is very Zen-like, and may reflect his early upbringing in Indonesia.