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Marty Linsky
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Marty Linsky

Co-founder of the leadership-focused consulting firm, Cambridge Leadership Associates, Marty Linsky teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-authors the advice column, Leadership House Call and blogs at Linsky on Leadership .

Moving Past the 'Anti-Bush'

Successful leadership requires having the fullest possible toolkit in order to tailor your intervention to what is needed in the situation. Unsuccessful leadership often results when people are unwilling to move beyond their comfort zones, preferences, or wheelhouses to employ tools that will achieve their purpose but make them uneasy.

Fear is a wonderful example of that. LBJ understood that. In sports, Bill Parcells talks about the secret of treating every player differently, depending on what they need to be motivated to reach their potential.

Obama is in danger of being so wedded to being the anti-Bush that he is unwilling (though certainly not unable, with Rahm around) to use fear as a resource, especially with Congress, but perhaps also within his own administration and in dealing with other countries, to reach some of his most cherished objectives. Bush was guilty of drawing on an equally narrow, albeit very different, toolbox.

In leadership, there are two great advantages to having a very big toolbox. First, as suggested already, the more tools in your toolbox, the more you can fashion your response to what is needed to reach your goal. Second, the narrower your toolbox, the more predictable your responses are and thus the easier it is to manage you. Consistency is a virtue for good management. Unpredictability is a virtue for successful leadership.

By Marty Linsky

 |  August 18, 2009; 10:05 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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