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Archive: September 26, 2010 - October 2, 2010

Afraid of average

Best paid. Most powerful. Top influencer. Lots of publications churn out lists and rankings of impressive women. These grown-up honor rolls sell magazines and get lots of hits in the social-media universe, whether showcasing women's power in terms of hierarchy or paychecks. It seems we love a good competition, especially one that culminates in a tidy inventory of prowess. But while impressive to read through, the average woman feels like there's a grand canyon separating her from the leaders profiled in these rankings.

By Selena Rezvani | October 1, 2010; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (17)

Fighting the bull

Actually, I've been more concerned with Obama's team of economists than his military advisers. Virtually no member of this illustrious team has fought the bull. I would hope that President Obama would recruit at least one CEO--yes, one who had a met a payroll--one with a comprehensive understanding of markets, corporate finance and tons of experience. Even one could augment and complement the Chateau Economists who have held sway far too long...

By Warren Bennis | October 1, 2010; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fearful leaders

I suspect the meetings that President Obama has with his advisers engender passion and debate between and among all present over high-stakes decisions. In these kinds of settings leaders far too frequently march down one of two paths: they shut out their advisers or they cater to...

By Martin Davidson | September 29, 2010; 2:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

The worst 'expert' flubs

Most critical is for the leader to realize that experts don't have a perfect track record. Far from it. If you're not already skeptical of expert opinion, glance over these doozies...

By Ken Adelman | September 29, 2010; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

Deciding in a state of ignorance

Seasoned decision-makers value experts' views---but view experts skeptically. They learn to cross-examine them with ferocity. They learn to create "Red" teams and "Blue" teams. The Red Team is charged with providing the affirmative account of...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | September 29, 2010; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Getting team buy-in

Leaders who are looking for more creativity need to put their people in different surroundings and reframe the questions in ways that probe the underlying philosophy and criteria for an effective solution first, rather than specifics. Devising your own solution might work if you are president of the United States, but...

By Kathryn Kolbert | September 29, 2010; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

When the going gets tough, the tough get...

In the case of strategic advice to a president, his senior military advisers must give him their best advice as they see it, no matter how painful. When faced with a desire to define an end state--and it is not clear that was the entire question at issue with the president in regard to Afghanistan--his military advisers...

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | September 28, 2010; 3:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

The right way to engage military leaders

The fact that a debate on the strategic direction occurred, allowing for conflicting and dissenting points of view within the Bush administration, is characteristic of healthy civil-military relations. Senior military officers--the theater and operational commanders as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff--were engaged in discourse...

By Col. Charles D. Allen | September 28, 2010; 3:19 PM ET | Comments (1)

Respect your advisers

President Obama has the difficult task of serving as a commander-in-chief without a military background, while working with career military people. He's not the first president in this position, of course. It just means he has to be extremely well prepared on military matters. He doesn't need to know nitty-gritty details...

By Yash Gupta | September 28, 2010; 2:26 PM ET | Comments (2)

The president as decider

This president is very logical, thoughtful and deliberative in the way he makes decisions; he doesn't appear to be impulsive or easily swayed by poll numbers grading his likability or direction. There seems to be healthy ability to obtain counsel from smart people who don't always see things the same way and who aren't afraid...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | September 28, 2010; 2:18 PM ET | Comments (1)

Going down in flames? Do it this way

In these make-or-break situations, my advice to leaders is: "Go with your gut." Going down in flames is always painful. But it's neigh on unbearable when you fail following someone else's advice about...

By Paul R. Portney | September 28, 2010; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (2)

Experts and advisers and leaders, oh my

A generation who judges its importance by numbers of blog followers and Facebook friends is bereft of leadership that dares to be unpopular. However, the "unpopular" role is one that leaders often have to play. If expert advice conflicts with what leadership senses is the best...

By Coro Fellows | September 28, 2010; 9:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

Leaders use advisers, not the other way around

President Obama's efforts to impose his views on the conduct of the war in Afghanistan bring to mind the example of an earlier president, Abraham Lincoln. During the first three years of the Civil War, Lincoln was served by military leaders who were either less than competent or...

By John Baldoni | September 28, 2010; 9:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

When not to listen to experts

A leader's assumptions and incentives may be different from those of experts. In the case of Obama and the generals, the president--not the generals--is accountable to the American people. It is his responsibility to define and defend...

By Michael Maccoby | September 28, 2010; 9:22 AM ET | Comments (1)

The leader as chief strategist

The challenge with senior advisers and other content experts is that they are often just that --experts with deep, specialized knowledge in a narrow domain. They are not attuned to the language, framing and packaging required to sell a difficult decision to...

By Sally Blount | September 27, 2010; 4:46 PM ET | Comments (2)

This isn't "delegatable"

Get the opinions of the best advisers you can find in each of the affected areas and use them to consider the trade offs between, say, political and military effects. Ultimately, only the leader--in this case the president--can integrate this information and make...

By George Daly | September 27, 2010; 4:36 PM ET | Comments (0)

When political realities trump good advice

The president should always have the courage to overrule his advisers when he believes them wrong; Lincoln is the great example. In this case, however, the president overruled his generals not because he disagreed with their military advice but because of political reality...

By Slade Gorton | September 27, 2010; 3:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Put yourself in another's spit-shined shoes

A key to effective leadership is for the leader to be able to put himself in the shoes of each of his lieutenants, and for the lieutenants, in turn, to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the leader. If senior military officers were unable to understand what President Obama was requesting...

By Howard Gardner | September 27, 2010; 2:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Don't just defer to experts

It is the job of the "leader" to accumulate as many inputs as possible, decide how much weight to give to each view, consider what data points or perspectives are missing, and then come to a decision based on his or her own evaluation of the viable options to be considered. To simply defer to experts is to abdicate...

By Mickey Edwards | September 27, 2010; 2:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

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