Leadership is W.A.R.
Effective leadership in business and politics requires going to W.A.R.
to achieve successful solutions: Working on the right problem.
Asking the right questions. Removing barriers that impede
progress toward the ultimate goal. Sometimes that W.A.R. must
start with your own management team.
might seem obvious that President Bush is in charge of what goes on in
the White House, but it is more obvious that he has some crippling
weaknesses in his management team. The negative outcry over the sale of
management of six U.S. ports by a British firm to Dubai Ports World,
owned by the United Arab Emirates, is the latest distraction to test the
president’s leadership style, and potentially weaken his fragile
political capital. Bush’s second term has already been marked by a
number of public relations missteps, including federal response to
Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court and,
though hugely overblown, the handling of Vice President Dick Cheney’s
latest news on the ports deal – that the president was not made aware of
the sale until other administration officials had already approved it –
has empowered Bush’s political enemies and media critics who revel in
labeling the administration as out of touch and secretive. It is clear
that those at the top levels of the president’s administration present
barriers to his ability to lead the nation and effectively communicate
his policy agenda to Congress and the public. Bush must remove these
barriers immediately to ensure a successful second term.
president and his leadership team have generally worked on the right
economic problems during his two terms. Early in his first term, Bush
established a commission to study the Social Security system and to
recommend alternatives to restructure the dysfunctional and soon
insolvent program. Most recently, the president delivered a State of the
Union address that was strong on national defense, but weak and
misguided on domestic policy initiatives. The address included plans for
yet another commission to propose solutions to the Social Security
president spent the bulk of last year explaining the irrefutable fiscal
crisis Social Security faces, yet many in Congress refused to consider
his optional personal retirement accounts solution, while others even
denied the fiscal crisis exists. The main reason the president’s effort
to restructure Social Security failed last year was not because his
solution was flawed. It was because the solution was poorly communicated
to the public, which provided knock-kneed members of Congress the
political cover they needed to avoid discussing the issue. The poor
communications strategy, coupled with liberals’ over-bloated and
inaccurate attacks, caused the optional personal retirement accounts
solution to never gain momentum.
also made overhauling the income tax code a centerpiece of his domestic
policy agenda, pushed through tax-rate cuts that have caused historic
economic gains and appointed a commission to analyze our tax system and
propose changes fair and simple for all citizens. The president is
working on the right economic problems, but the advice he receives on
communicating his solutions is jeopardizing his plans from the start.
fully understand the difficulty of replacing loyal team members who are
not getting the job done. I have done it many times in my career. A
shake-up of the current administration’s management team may cause a few
bruised egos within the White House, but would likely be seen as a sign
of strength across the country. Installation of a new or revamped
advisory team would indicate that the president knows he has internal
problems, and is willing to fix them. Every president since Richard
Nixon has reconfigured his closest group of advisors at least once.
Granted, the president is leading this nation amidst a storm not of his
own making. He did not invite the global war on terrorism or constant
threats of terrorism on our own soil, and he is essentially charged with
mapping the course of foreign policy and national security for
subsequent administrations. The president must realize, however, that
some members of his team are failing him.
President, you’re in charge. A management shake-up is needed to
re-energize your domestic agenda, provide you with fresh voices and
solutions and send a message to Congress and the public that you are
willing to lead outside and inside the White House. There is still time
for your domestic policy agenda to succeed, but not if you wait any
longer to make some management changes
© 2006 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
is Column # HC3.
Request permission to publish here.