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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

Nuclear summit: The low-probability problem

This week's nuclear summit presents one of those difficult leadership challenge: focusing attention and resources on a low-probability problem that would be disastrous if it occurred. Global warming, 100-year floods, financial meltdowns are other examples. How does a leader fight the natural tendency among followers to put off dealing with what seem like such abstract and complicated threats?

Posted by Steve Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti on April 12, 2010 2:50 PM
FROM THE PANEL
Michael Useem

'Not in my term of office'

The art of leadership includes preparing for the unexpected. In an unpredictable world, that's more valuable than ever.

Posted by Michael Useem, on April 14, 2010 9:23 PM
Amy Fraher

Between risk and certainty

World leaders like President Obama in Washington this week can learn from this by not shying away from the challenge of this decision making process.

Posted by Amy Fraher, on April 13, 2010 3:11 PM
Yash Gupta

The duty of leaders

This level of ignorance is, in itself, a high-risk problem, making it that much tougher - and that much more urgent - for our leaders to guide the way toward a threat-free future.

Posted by Yash Gupta, on April 13, 2010 12:11 PM

Was 9/11 real enough?

If somehow, someway, Iran or al-Qaeda acquired the materials to create a nuclear bomb, the threat of a nuclear attack would not seem so 'abstract and complicated.'

Posted by West Point Cadets, on April 13, 2010 11:14 AM

We are all 'slackers'

Rally around a common foe, make it personal, and tap into deeper values -- This formula can be used to engage people on many of the long-term threats we now face.

Posted by Jon Cowan, on April 13, 2010 6:06 AM

Long-term thinking

Focusing on future, abstract issues instead of the immediate ones? That sounds a lot like the definition of maturity.

Posted by Columbia University students, on April 13, 2010 5:59 AM
Slade Gorton

The realistic leader

Is it likely that a free country will be willing to make major present sacrifices against an uncertain and distant future? The leaders sees 'through a glass darkly.'

Posted by Slade Gorton, on April 13, 2010 5:58 AM
Ken Adelman

A hole 'narrow but deep'

The leader should focus the group on the cataclysmic consequences, rather than the improbability of such an event happening.

Posted by Ken Adelman, on April 13, 2010 5:46 AM

Curing our evolutionary hangover

Q: This week's nuclear summit presents one of those difficult leadership challenge: focusing attention and resources on a low-probability problem that would be disastrous if it occurred. Global warming, 100-year floods, financial meltdowns are other examples. How can a leader...

Posted by Coro Fellows, on April 13, 2010 4:27 AM

Inspiration in the face of apocalypse

The public tends to turn off when faced with complicated, scary scenarios. Instead, leaders should offer an inspiring vision.

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on April 12, 2010 4:06 PM

One nuclear bomb can ruin a whole presidency

You can do a lot of little things right and be an adequate leader, but if you fail to do the one big thing, and you are a total failure as a leader.

Posted by Alan M. Webber, on April 12, 2010 3:53 PM
Gen. John Batiste (Ret.)

'Set the azimuth' on al-Qaeda

Why aren't all elements of our national power applied to this problem of nuclear security? When will we appreciate that the solution involves much more than our great military?

Posted by Gen. John Batiste (Ret.), on April 12, 2010 3:37 PM
John Baldoni

Make it personal

When it comes to global warming, nuclear disarmament or any other issue with far-reaching consequences you communicate on a level that people can understand.

Posted by John Baldoni, on April 12, 2010 2:19 PM

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FEATURED COMMENTS

hogsmile: One should close the barn door before the horse is stolen of course but, even so -- even agreeing to all these precautionary measures with t...

suegbic1: The nuclear summit had only one purpose: to provide Obama with yet another theatrical opportunity to admire himself as the center of attenti...

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