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Bob Schoultz
Naval/Academic leader

Bob Schoultz

Captain Bob Schoultz (U.S. Navy, Ret.) directs the Master of Science in Global Leadership at the University of San Diego's School of Business Administration.

Less Beer, More Honesty

Obviously, a leader has to be careful publicly expressing an opinion on a topic before the facts are known. The leader's expressed opinion can prejudice future inquiries, can color the truth before the facts are made public, and, if the leader is misinformed, it can cost him or her credibility. If the expressed opinion is on a matter that is beyond the responsibilities of the leader, it can also cost the loyalty and support of those who have different opinions.

A bigger question is, how does a leader handle the mistake already made? When the leader makes a mistake, he or she must admit it. The "national feel-good moment" didn't feel that good to me. Many of us would have found it refreshing had our leader simply said, "I made a mistake in simply assuming that the Cambridge police had acted stupidly, and I judged too quickly based on too little information. I, and I hope the rest of America, learned something from my mistake."

His comment that "I could've calibrated my words differently'" was a statement of the obvious. Leaders are human. They must be prepared to admit mistakes. Candidate Obama criticized then-President Bush for not admitting mistakes, and for using equivocating political language to avoid taking responsibility for his and his administration's mistakes. President Obama owned this mistake entirely himself, and, I think he missed an opportunity to distinguish himself from "politics as usual" in how he responded to it.

By Bob Schoultz

 |  August 4, 2009; 10:14 AM ET
Category:  Making mistakes Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Drink to high treason. That's what the founding fathers were committed to and we should be equally committed to the same. The alternative is the growing fraud and eternal loss of liberty in the name of security. There are false friends and there is false security too. Time to get more serious before more damage is done. Damage is fine, if the right things are being damaged. Destroy AIG next. It's a cancer and they keep making it grow. We don't need it. Death can be a bonus.

Posted by: Dermitt | August 4, 2009 2:55 PM
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Um, slight difference between giving an off-the-cuff response to a question at the end of a press conference, and blatantly lying about WMDs to trick the nation into supporting an illegitimate and unwinnable war.

If you can't see the difference, then there really is no hope....

Posted by: AxelDC | August 4, 2009 11:48 AM
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LOL he did admit the mistake. He euphemised, of course, but then this is Washington. Main thing is he cleaned up his own mess.

Not that it was ever much of a mess to begin with. The professor may have overreacted, but he gets the status of being the little older man in his own living room. The cop also overreacted, and he's got the badge and the gun.

Cops have been pulling people in for disorderly conduct for decades, knowing the charges would be kicked the next morning. They do it because of its deterrent value. Good cops do it a whole lot less than bad cops.

I think maybe that officer owes somebody an apology. But changing his behavior in future will have to do.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 4, 2009 10:57 AM
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