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Marshall Goldsmith
Executive Coach/Author

Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, speaker, coach and best-selling author. His most recent book is Mojo.

So "Right," So Wrong

President George W. Bush's greatest strength was also his greatest weakness. He did what he thought was right. In my opinion, on some important issues, he was just wrong. Not immoral, unethical or devious - just wrong.

I had the opportunity to address this issue with (then) President Clinton. I mentioned that he had been accused of being a 'popularity poll' type of leader. His response was impressive to me. He said, "I thought that America was supposed to be a democracy. Why should I apologize for trying to understand the will of the people?"

In my book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, I discuss how, after achieving a high level of success, leaders can become fixated on "winning too much" and "trying to be right" - at the expense of listening to differing opinions. I am afraid that President Bush made this mistake.

On the positive side, if you believe he had the correct strategy, you would have to give him credit for "sticking to his position" in the face of 80 percent public disapproval! I just heard him speak a couple of weeks ago. I am convinced that he still sincerely believes that he did what was best for our country.

By Marshall Goldsmith

 |  January 5, 2009; 11:07 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Don't focus on winning and being right. It's okay to lose and do what you think is wrong sometimes. In fact, winning and being right aren't really all that important. Just being open to other things and other opinions and ideas are more important. When the Devil whispers in your ear, well, just be open to it, okay?

Posted by: chatard | January 13, 2009 10:31 AM
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George W Bush achieved much of what he and Chaney and the neocons intended. The rich got very, very rich and the middle class got destroyed. ("In debt to the company store.") Money was made king; Human labor, innovation and intelligence was relegated to the trash bin. The court system has shifted from supporting democracy to supporting a plutocracy.

There was no way this could have been accomplished honestly and openly; the system had to be corrupted to meet their goal.

Yes, they were fabulous leaders if you accept their goals.

However, one of the unintended consequences of a successful plutocracy appears to be that the economies crash and the plutocrats get hammered. (Unless they are still in power to get bailed out.)

Now my goals don't coincide in the least with their goals. Now nowhere in the question suggest that their goal was supposed to be moral leadership - that would be entirely different answer. On average the GDP grew; on average the economist who had his head in the oven and was standing in a bucket of ice could feel the warmth of a growing economy.

Posted by: stanassc | January 5, 2009 5:19 PM
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He never thought anything through to their logical conclusions.

He was and still is, intellectually lazy.

Things fell apart because there was no leadership.

Sticking to a bad strategy is retarded behavior, not presidential.

Posted by: vigor | January 5, 2009 1:44 PM
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