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Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Todd Henshaw, a professor at Columbia University, is Academic Director of Wharton Executive Education. Previously, he directed the leadership program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Survival Is Success

Often, the most difficult job for a leader is to translate complex or ambiguous information into a persuasive call for change. In many situations, it is best for the new leader to allow the situation to "speak for itself." Pointing to market data, declining jobs numbers, and rising foreclosure figures in this case puts Obama in a great strategic position, and he can thank our current president for creating almost ideal conditions for change.

Success over the next decade might be defined as sustaining our way of life or preventing the collapse of our economic system. Redefining the crisis in these terms, without overstating or embellishing negative information, has the potential to get people moving. Obama doesn't need to put men on the moon -- he needs to leverage this crisis to lead real changes that will allow us to survive the most difficult economic conditions experienced in a generation.

Obama hasn't been saddled with the challenge of persuading us there's a real problem. We all know that the economy is in crisis. He's been able to focus on building credibility and hope by fielding an experienced team of economic advisors, communicating that despite his lack of executive experience, he'll be a listener and a learner, and, most important, he's done a good job tempering expectations: He's told us that we can't expect to pull out of this crisis soon or without sacrifice.

So far, Barrack Obama has done a fantastic job framing our future challenges and building hope and trust through inclusion and by painting images of a better future in his speeches. He will enjoy several months of patient support, hopefully from both sides of the aisle. The true test of this support will occur as he translates words into action, and begins to act on many of the promises made during the campaign.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

 |  January 21, 2009; 11:39 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

"Change"? you bet!

Government Racism on parade -- and unashamed.

Robert Reich:



Posted by: PattiORiley | January 22, 2009 10:40 AM
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