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George Daly
Business school dean

George Daly

George Daly is Dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. An accomplished scholar, he also has taught courses on leadership and economics.

This isn't "delegatable"

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?

Leaders need to recognize that there may be multiple dimensions to issues that the public or others might see as the province of a single body or group. In the example you raised, what is perceived by many to be primarily a military issue may have political, financial or other effects that can affect outcomes far beyond the military sphere. Indeed, a primary responsibility of the leader is to envision the full breadth and nature of such ancillary effects, since only then can he or she understand the full implications of the path ultimately chosen and avoid so-called unanticipated consequences.

How best to do this: 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 the call. It is not "delegatable."

By George Daly

 |  September 27, 2010; 4:36 PM ET
Category:  Government leadership , Organizational Culture , Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: When political realities trump good advice | Next: The leader as chief strategist

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