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Daisy Wademan Dowling

Daisy Wademan Dowling

Daisy Wademan Dowling, executive director of leadership development at a Fortune 500 company, writes a regular column for the Harvard Business Review and is author of the 2004 book, "Remember Who You Are."

Nominee: White House Usher

Our society applauds capital-L leaders appearing on the political or corporate stage, people visible because of their sheer power or economic clout. But we do a lousy job of recognizing people engaged in the real work of leadership: building organizations, developing people, motivating teams, working in the "whitespace" between bureaucratic lines, laboring relentlessly -- and often thanklessly -- for a greater good.

There should be a Nobel Prize for leadership, and it should go to the best "servant leader" we can find. My nomination: the White House Chief Usher, Rear Admiral Stephen W. Rochon.

Never heard of the Chief Usher? I hadn't either, but he's the guy charged with "effective operation of the White House Complex," in all of its complexity. He's essentially the COO of the presidential machine. When important negotiations run all night in the West Wing, he's the unsung man behind the scenes pulling all the logistics together so the people at that negotiations table can fully focus on their jobs. He works across dozens of formal organizations to bring one integrated, high-performing team to bear on the problem: pulling together protocol experts from the Department of State, the Secret Service agents, and the guys working in the kitchen. At 1600 Pennsylvania, the buck stops with Mr. Rochon. And the job is apolitical, as the Usher works for the White House, not for Mr Obama.

Let me add here that Mr Rochon served in the Coast Guard for 30 years, coordinated Coast Guard disaster response after Katrina, and in his spare time helps rebuild historic Louisiana homes damaged by that hurricane.

If we want an example of what leaders really do, I suggest we start with this one.

By Daisy Wademan Dowling

 |  October 14, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Great example of an unsung hero and someone who makes the "trains run on time" in a very important power center for our country.

The cult of celebrity over shadows so many of America's great leaders. Thanks for reminding us that we should look for exceptional leaders in our every day lives.

Glad your voice is in the dialogue.

Posted by: amywilkinson | October 15, 2009 10:14 PM
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