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Norm R. Augustine
Technology/Civic Leader

Norm R. Augustine

A former president of the Boy Scouts of America and chair of the American Red Cross, Norm Augustine is the retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Getting Back on the Horse

President-elect Obama evidences many strengths of a great leader. He clearly motivates people to follow him and to do so willingly. His campaign showed that he is a good strategic thinker and organizer. His appointments to his cabinet indicate that he prefers to be surrounded by other talented individuals; weak leaders often make the (usually fatal) mistake of not wanting people around who might prove to be "competition". (This remarkable ability to judge and select his current subordinates admittedly contrasts with the judgment he displayed earlier in his career in the selection of a few of his associates.) The President-elect's imperturbable demeanor and strong intellect are good omens, and his ability to inspire the troops through oral communication rivals that of Henry IV.

But perhaps no new president in our nation's history has ever faced the diversity of challenges that are currently lined up outside the door to the Oval Office. These range from two wars to a potential environmental catastrophe; from a seemingly ever-present energy shortage to a healthcare crisis; from violence in the Middle East to an aging infrastructure; from a non-functional K-12 education system to a collapsing global economy.

In short, President Obama will need to continue being every bit as good a leader as he has so far appeared to be. And keeping in mind that nearly half (47.1%) the voters in the election did not vote for the President-elect, every American, Democrats and Republicans (like myself) alike, had better give him all appropriate support.

President Obama will undoubtedly be tested in the Big Leagues -- and soon. The nation's expectations -- and indeed, the world's expectations -- are so immense that unless he proves to be a Lincolnesque leader, disappointment will abound throughout the country. Then, the criterion that Jack Welch applies to successful leaders will come into play: how quickly he gets back on the horse.

By Norm R. Augustine

 |  January 14, 2009; 11:03 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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