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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

NYC Mosque: Time to act?

President Obama weighed in on the issue of the mosque at Ground Zero prompting grumbles that the gesture was unnecessary and politically damaging. Meanwhile the imam at the center of the controversy -- Feisal Abdul Rauf -- has been largely invisible, lecturing for the State Department in Bahrain and, according to his wife, unavailable until next month. What do leaders need to know about perfecting the timing of weighing in on a crisis?

Posted by Steve Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti on August 23, 2010 12:36 PM
FROM THE PANEL

Obama tried to show leadership, heightened tensions

It's clear that the President felt the debate surround the Ground Zero mosque had risen to the level where his lack of a position would have communicated indifference on an issue of increasing importance to the American people. It's also clear that he felt that...

Posted by Robert Goodwin, on August 27, 2010 8:55 AM

Ostrich leadership at the World Trade Center

As human beings, crisis and danger can lead to fight or flight responses. Freezing up and not knowing what to do is a manifestation of flight. But part of a skilled leader's toolkit is the ability to override that response because their constituents, their organizations, and their societies need them to. People need...

Posted by Martin Davidson, on August 26, 2010 8:51 AM

Time is now for imam to speak on mosque

The motivation for leaders to speak varies. It might be a matter of conscience, the heat of political pressure, affiliation and loyalty to a group, an opportunity to influence, a chance to exploit the situation for personal gain, or just flagrant egotism. We have observed behavioral manifestations of all of these in the past year. The controversy over the Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque ...

Posted by Katherine Tyler Scott, on August 24, 2010 2:54 PM

Rejecting the politics of fear

The crisis that cries out for leadership is not about the mosque in Manhattan. It is about confronting the fear that can paralyze this country or turn fear of the future into impotent anger. We need leaders who ...

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on August 24, 2010 12:11 PM

Imam and Obama should defend the mosque

President Obama was right that, in America, Muslims have just as much right to a downtown place of worship as any religious group does. However, Imam Rauf's responsibility as leader requires that he be present and engaging with the same sort of calming assurance that he offered in the Fall of 2001. By remaining silent, Imam Rauf failed to take up that responsibility, and this...

Posted by Doug Guthrie, on August 24, 2010 11:06 AM

Defending the diversity we cherish

President Obama did the right thing in his initial comments by providing a broad overview of the issue. He essentially said: This is America, where we respect the rights of individuals, we honor the freedom to worship and the freedom to express one's views, and we revel in the diversity that has made ours a society envied the world over. The president was being fairly clear as to where he stood on the matter of the Cordoba House community center.

Posted by Yash Gupta, on August 24, 2010 10:08 AM

Obama did the right thing stepping in

Leadership demands that you stay true to your principles whether or not they are politically expedient. Three cheers for the President who has used the controversy to remind Americans that this country was founded on (and Constitutionally enshrined) the notion that all people have the right to practice their faith, free of government interference.

Posted by Kathryn Kolbert, on August 24, 2010 9:42 AM

Leaders need to involve themselves in crises

The cold hard reality of crisis management is that crises are unpredictable. Seldom do they follow a script, this means that leaders need to be active and engaged whenever called upon to do so. And they must do so with a sense of calmness and control. A leader who withdraws from the fray or seems hopelessly lost sends the worst kind of signals. This breeds fear from which no good can come.

Posted by John Baldoni, on August 24, 2010 8:57 AM

It's not when, but what Obama said

A leader should speak up when the matter calls for his attention, when he has a well thought out and articulated position with respect to the relevant issues, and when he has thought through the various possible reactions to his remarks and anticipated those reactions as much as possible. With respect to his remarks about the mosque, and also about the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, the problem for Pres. Obama was not a matter of timing.

Posted by Howard Gardner, on August 23, 2010 1:43 PM

Unraveling the forces behind the NYC Mosque

Perhaps the most compelling example of leadership in this convoluted story came from leaders of various religions, including Jews, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, Mormons, Sufis, and Muslims. These leaders put their religious differences aside to issue a joint statement supporting the construction of the mosque. Their reasoning was simple: at one time or another, every faith has been "denied its right." Rather than continue the cycle, they argue, Americans of all faiths have the opportunity to be an example of religious tolerance for the rest of the world.

Posted by Joe Frontiera and Dan Leidl, on August 23, 2010 11:29 AM

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FEATURED COMMENTS

truepakistani79: Firstly, Americans need to understand the act of 9/11 was by individual group of people not by Muslim religion as a whole. Secondly, will i...

Capitalismworks: In Obama's case the time to act on this is never - it's NOT a Federal issue! His constant commentary and his personal need to involve himse...

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