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

Paul R. Portney

Paul R. Portney

Paul R. Portney is Dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Halle Chair in Leadership.

Going down in flames? Do it this way

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?

The single most important thing any leader can do is surround him- or herself with outstanding people. Having done so, it would be foolish not to listen carefully to them.

That said, there are some decisions that can make or break a leader. In a corporation this might be whether or not to launch a new product; in a non-profit it might be an altogether new fundraising strategy; in government it might be the choice that Bob Woodward describes President Obama as having had to make.

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 which you harbored serious reservations.

By Paul R. Portney

 |  September 28, 2010; 10:29 AM ET
Category:  A leader's team , Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Experts and advisers and leaders, oh my | Next: The president as decider


Please report offensive comments below.

Neigh ???????

Posted by: Geezer4 | September 29, 2010 4:21 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Neigh ???????

Posted by: Geezer4 | September 29, 2010 4:19 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Post a Comment

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company