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George Reed

George Reed

A retired U.S. Army Colonel, George Reed is an associate professor in the Department of Leadership Studies within the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego.

After The Euphoria?

Good leaders display an ability to harness human potential to accomplish organizational goals. Leadership at its highest level involves not only making good decisions, but also obtaining motivation and commitment to achieve positive change. Therefore, an ability to communicate and inspire others is essential. It should be no surprise then that great political leaders are also great communicators. Obama has clearly displayed strong communication skills and a remarkable ability to inspire others. This will serve him well as he takes to the bully pulpit.

It is not enough, however, to be a compelling communicator and symbol. He will soon be the chief executive responsible for the operation of a staggering federal bureaucracy that is by all reasonable standards of accountability far beyond the ability of a single person to control. Former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan once said that senior leaders have three fundamental tasks: To bring us into the future through a compelling vision, to build teams, and to manage complex systems. What have seen to date portends great promise for the first task, but the jury is still out on the other two. Obama's ability to forge a cohesive and effective team that can implement his priorities, and his ability to work with Congress will be put to the test.

Soon the euphoria over his election will fade and President Obama will be faced with inevitable hard and in some cases unpopular decisions. He will undoubtedly face unforeseen crises that could very well divert him from his stated priorities. He becomes the commander-in-chief of our military forces at a time of ongoing conflict and strategic uncertainty. His response to these challenges could ultimately define his character and success as a leader.

By George Reed

 |  January 12, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The imperial inauguration train is similar to Queen Cleopatra's glorius entrance into Rome. No one knows whether Obama will succeed or not, but the crowd obviously loves the circus acompanying the most expensive inauguration in U.S. history, done Hollywood-style. Our nation is experiencing a serious recession in my area and as I watch the bank bailouts and the silk gowns and parties, I ask myself "What Change?" "When will it be the middle class time?" There were promises!

Posted by: drzimmern | January 18, 2009 12:11 AM
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Mr. Obama is an academic who prefers to pontificate over gray areas rather making concrete decisions or even taking a particular stand. I suspect ultimately he will be an indecisive weak leader much like Jimmy Carter

Posted by: tom2 | January 17, 2009 4:55 PM
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The harsh reality is the job is "above his pay grade." Communication skills and/or organization skills is no substitute for experience. I might equate it to my college career. I learned a lot of facts and procedure and I will admit that while I was sure of what value those facts were ass I gained experience I realized just how valuable even the insignificant courses had become. But by then the over-riding factor was instincts based on experience. The undoing of politicians is the focus on failing policies that seem to be beyond their capacity to abandon. Most significant of Obama's potential failure is his adherence to a very questionable if not outright fraudulent theory of 'Global Warming." Perhaps, the MSM will keep the fantasy alive for a while, but euphoria will not last as reality sets in.

Posted by: Weaver1 | January 17, 2009 12:50 PM
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I was in the military.I am sure the Colonel trains good officers, but military officers are just that..for the military. They do not equate to civivlian leaders.In the military I was always reminded it was not a democracy. Obama leads a democracy. As for Reagan, he was all script.. He was a diffrent Bush with different handlers.His trickle down theory worked only for the ones from which it trickled. It never reached the ones to whom it trickled.His tax cuts started what Bush ended.Financial ruin

Posted by: RPLCO | January 17, 2009 10:27 AM
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What's missing in this article and in our political system are two things. An army officer should know what they are.

1. A real leader must have a genuine sense of mission and purpose. A specific goal. The BHO administration has no specific purpose or plan. They are "pragmatic" which means they have no plan other then maintaining power and are just going to try a bunch of stuff and see if it works.

2. A genuine leader must have the welfare of the group at heart and be prepared to sacrifice everything for the group including their own personal benefit. This engenders trust and a willingness to go on in those who are being led. Does anyone, besides zany neurotics, believe the political hacks in the BHO administration or the Bush administration are willing to sacrifice themselves for our good.

The truth is that our culture and society are now devoid of genuine leadership. There is not a real leader in either party. All we have are political hacks, crack pots, spin masters, handlers, bureaucrats and grifters. The American people know this instinctively. The lack of any real leadership is the true malaise infecting this country. There are no adults in our house. If I am wrong how did we get into the current economic mess? Where were all of our leaders? No one noticed anything.

Genuine leadership is a thing of the human spirit. It comes from the heart. It is not created or captured in bureaucratic jargon or graduate school seminars. The Army officers I knew in my youth knew that.

Posted by: JoeDBrown | January 17, 2009 9:09 AM
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The good Colonel forgot something vital to effective leadership.

An effective leader *MUST* establish at least 1 and never more than 3 (4? .... too many. Zero? You'll have the equivalent of a rudderless Aircraft carrier out at sea) major goals/tasks/priorities. They must be clear, unambiguous and known by all and focused on by all.

Quintessential example?

Ronald Reagan who clearly announced his goals to:

1. Build up defense.

2. Bring down the Soviet Union. And,

3. Cut taxes.

Like him or not, Reagan was a leader! He successfully achieved all 3 above.

Obama? His 1 theme has been a very, very vague, nebulous "change." ("Change" the oil in my car? "Change" a 6 month old's poopy diapers?).

Had 100 Obama supporters been asked on Nov. 4th to define Obama's plans for "change," you would have gotten 100 different answers. NOT GOOD!

By trying to be all things to all people (the shotgun approach), the Messiah may have sown the seeds of potential future failure. Ask the Gay community.

USMC (ret).

Posted by: furtdw | January 17, 2009 9:05 AM
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