On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

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.

Failure Not An Option

President-elect Obama evidences many strengths of a great leader. He clearly motivates people to follow him and to do so willingly. His campaign suggests he is a good strategic thinker and organizer. His appointments to his cabinet indicate he prefers to be surrounded by other talented individuals; weak leaders often make the mistake, usually fatal, of not wanting people around who might prove "competitive" with themselves. (This remarkable ability to judge and select his current subordinates admittedly contrasts with the judgment he displayed in the selection of a few of his associates earlier in his career.) 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 faced the diversity of challenges now 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 nonfunctional K-12 education system to a collapsing global economy; from terrorism to...

In short, President Obama will need to be every bit as good a leader as he appears to be...and every American, Republicans (like me) and Democrats alike, had better hope that is the case and give him all appropriate support. In this regard it is useful to recall that nearly half (47.1%) the voters in the most recent election did not vote for the president-elect.

President Obama will undoubtedly be tested in the big leagues--and soon. The expectations of the nation's, and indeed, the world's, citizenry are so immense that unless he is in fact a Lincolnesque leader, disappointment will abound throughout the land. Then the criterion that Jack Welch applies to leaders will come into play: Does he get back on his horse?

By Norm R. Augustine

 |  January 12, 2009; 2:04 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Gifted Speaker | Next: Not Afraid to Disappoint

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company