Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti
Gone But Not Forgotten
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has again criticized the Obama administration, raising the issue of the role of leaders after they step aside. Should "formers" offer advice, praise or criticism? In public or in private? When asked or unsolicited? Do different rules apply to public vs. private sectors?
Posted by Ben Bradlee and Steve Pearlstein on May 11, 2009 10:20 AM
"Values" issues like torture are important, but they attract divisive grandstanding and receive an outsized portion of media attention, especially when compared to tough challenges like health care or the environment, where nuance and innovation are required.
Posted by Patricia McGinnis, on May 15, 2009 10:44 AM
Having served in a variety of leadership roles in the U.S. Navy and in higher education, it's always been my policy after stepping down to offer advice to my successors privately and only when they ask for it.
Dick Cheney's conduct should be a reminder to leaders who've stepped down from office, whether in the public or private sector, that they owe their successor the decency of support, and if not support, then silence.
Dick Cheney continues to speak on public matters, like his predecessors Al Gore or Jimmy Carter. When one's term ends, that person's brain does not dissolve and one's experiences do not suddenly become irrelevant.
Posted by Mickey Edwards, on May 12, 2009 12:19 PM
The "rules of comity" in both the public and private sector dictate that ex-leaders keep criticism to themselves, but certain exceptions apply, and a question of national security might be one of them.
Posted by Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr., on May 12, 2009 11:56 AM
Former Vice President Cheney should learn from generations of military officers who understand that once you leave command, you serve as a silent advisor, only providing input when it's requested from the new leader.
Posted by Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.), on May 12, 2009 10:11 AM
The real issue is whether in expressing his disagreement with the Obama administration, Mr. Cheney also expresses respect for our democratic process, for the American people and the electoral decision they made.
Cheney's insistence on reviewing memos he claims will prove that "enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding saved thousands of American lives may not be wise for the country and even for his political purposes.
Posted by Michael Maccoby, on May 12, 2009 7:02 AM
When former leaders let personal considerations overwhelm or substitute for the strategic is a demonstration of failed leadership. In most cases if you have something to say--say it thoughtfully, strategically, and privately.
My guess that, in most cases, when a former incumbent puts down a successor the main motivation is ego - not altruism. Former leaders should "get a new life" and try to help the world be a better place.
Posted by Marshall Goldsmith, on May 11, 2009 1:02 PM