A year ago, On Leadership posed the question, "Amidst crisis, how should Obama define success?" In my response, written the week of the inauguration, I referred back to the challenges faced by FDR upon his inauguration in 1933 and the benchmark set to measure achievements in the first hundred days and in that first year of his presidency. I wrote then:
"Charismatic, a builder of teams, and an intuitive leader, FDR had great power and was virtually unchallengeable when the nation was in crisis. Some have noted similar characteristics of President Obama, and the world is watching to see just how he measures up to these expectations. Will he succeed in establishing a vision, like FDR, and then leading the nation through these turbulent times?...
What is clear is that President Obama faces enormous challenges. We as citizens hope that the team that he assembles will be able to work with Congress and our international partners to address the myriad of problems. That will be the first measure of success."
At this one-year mark for President Obama, I offer another military "best practice" - the In-Progress Review. It is part of our Army culture to continually assess our performance on critical tasks and missions. We ingrain in our junior officers and our sergeants the need to conduct reviews at the tactical and organizational levels in order to critically evaluate what we do and to discern lessons that would improve future performance at the next iteration of execution. We ask, "What was planned and supposed to happen? What actually happened and Why? What should we learn from this in order to do better?"
This low-level process is useful to more senior leaders to re-affirm the vision they have put forth, to re-validate underlying assumptions and first principles, to see what has changed in the external environment and with stakeholders, and to determine whether the strategies require revision.
As leaders in our communities and in our nation, there is value in this approach as we look at the events of the past year--the economic crisis, the conduct of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the challenges of health-care reform, and the way business is done within our Congress between both parties. While we may not agree on the "how to" of strategies, it is important that we share in the vision and values to care for our citizens and the nation.
What have we as leaders really learned in the past year and what needs to change?
Read all responses to the On Leadership question: In response to this week's On Leadership question: One year into his presidency, what has been Barack Obama's most significant -- or most unexpected -- leadership strength or weakness?
Posted by: MajorJeffJ | January 22, 2010 10:52 AM
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