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Michael Maccoby
Scholar

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Open to manipulation

Q: Like many leaders, George Bush relied on trusted advisors like Karl Rove for advice and strategy. How can a leader draw the line between receiving good advice and being overly influenced by a strong advisor?

I have advised leaders in businesses, government, unions, universities and schools. Those who have used me well have been clear about what they need from me and why they need it. Sometimes it has to do with understanding the people they work with and helping to develop a more effective team. Sometimes it has to do with helping to design and facilitate a change process.

Effective leaders can articulate a leadership philosophy, including purposes, values and the results they seek. They know what they know and are not afraid to admit they need expert help to achieve their goals.

Paradoxically, the leaders most in danger of becoming dependent on an advisor are the ones who believe they don't need any advice. They are vulnerable to manipulative advisors who feed their narcissism and put down rival advisors. In Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House, Alexander and Juliette George described how House controlled the president with flattery. George W. Bush would never admit to making a mistake, and he was, until the end of his presidency, manipulated by Dick Cheney.

In contrast, our most effective presidents sought advice from different advisors whose knowledge they respected: George Washington with Alexander Hamilton on financial issues and Thomas Jefferson on international affairs. Abraham Lincoln and FDR made use of various expert advisers, sometimes inviting those with different views to debate an issue. These leaders listened and learned, but they set the goals and made the policy.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  March 4, 2010; 2:54 PM ET
Category:  A leader's team Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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instead of Bush and Rove you should have used obama and emmanuel...
they are the ones in power...
these are the ones you should make a point about...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 8, 2010 6:50 AM
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I was an Obama supporter early on. I still think he honestly believes in the ideals he articulated. I believe he is a good man and wants to be a good president. I am so disappointed that he has been so ineffectual. Is that because of the advice he has been given by his chosen advisers? I have no idea. I do know that, for some reason, the power that he held on inauguration day has been squandered. That is a sad thing for the country.

Posted by: colton | March 7, 2010 9:59 PM
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So the WaPo is pushing the "Bush was a puppet" meme, the same delusion that crazed leftist Joseph Stark wrote in his suicide note just before crashing an airplane into the IRS bulding.

Posted by: screwjob11 | March 7, 2010 12:32 PM
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