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

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

'Where I went wrong'

In response to the On Leadership question: Imagine you are a speech writer working on this week's State of the Union address. Draft a memorable passage that would allow the president to get his leadership mojo back.

"To be blunt, we inherited a mess this past January--on all fronts. The opposing party has fully lived up to its name -- it has opposed EVERYTHING, almost always unanimously. I asked them to 'get a mop' and to help clean up the mess. Instead, they either undercut the mop or threw more dirt into the hole. Unless the opposition changes its stance, and helps to clean up the mess that it largely created, I will have to ignore them and turn to you, the American people, for help.

But before I can legitimately do that, I have to shoulder part of the blame as well and correct course. This past year, too much of my attention, too much of our attention in Washington, has been directed at entities that appeared to need immediate help: banks and other financial entities that were judged too large to fail; automobile companies that were at risk of disappearing; and individuals who have long been out of work and deprived of health care.

I can defend our actions on these fronts, for they were well intentioned. But in the meantime, we -- and indeed I -- did not pay sufficient attention to the needs, the desires, the beliefs, the understandings of the vast majority of the population -- American citizens who work hard, play by the rules, want the best for their children, and see their own and their children's dreams risk falling by the wayside. I pledge to you that I will focus like a laser from here on in on the needs of the center, the heart, the heartland, the core of America -- and that means you.

If I keep that pledge, I ask you to join me in cleaning up the mess, giving me support when you can, your honest feedback when you disagree, and, working together, we can regain the dream that we shared in the chamber, just one year ago today."

By Howard Gardner

 |  January 25, 2010; 3:47 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Presidential 360 review | Next: Beyond partisan bickering

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company