Don't just defer to experts
Q: Bob Woodward's new book on the Obama White House portrays a president so frustrated with top military advisers for their refusal to provide what he considered a reasonable exit strategy from Afghanistan that he devised one himself. How should leaders reconcile the laudable instinct to rely on the advice of experts with the sometimes urgent need to force them to think outside the box?
One assumes a leadership position for the purpose of providing leadership, which is quite different from seeking consensus. It is always valuable to seek expert advice, but "expertise" is limited by the expert's range of focus and experience and is almost invariably too narrow to provide the entire range of information and perspective that is required for a sound decision. 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 the responsibilities of leadership.
September 27, 2010; 2:47 PM ET
Category: Government leadership , Making mistakes , Military Leadership Save & Share:
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