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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Slash and smile, with a stiff upper lip

Question: The conventional political wisdom is that the American public will reject politicians who propose or embrace a plan to bring the federal budget into balance through tax hikes and/or deep spending cuts. Is this a leadership challenge without a good solution? Can there be leadership without follow-ship?

No need to invent a slash-and-smile playbook. There's one already working--in Britain. David Cameron and Nick Clegg, UK prime minister and deputy, provide a shining model of economic and political leadership.

In economics they're slashing everything, from momentous entitlements to emotional health centers. Everyone's taking a big hit so it seems fair, however painful. Protesting then becomes rather provincial, or downright selfish.

When the press shows a policy choice to be impractical or nonsensical, their economics chief quickly appears in public and has even admitted, in essence, "We were hasty, and they're right. So we're changing the policy from A to B." Controversy ended. Policy improved.

In politics, two UK party leaders at opposite ends of the political spectrum formed a coalition. They said nasty things in the past; everyone doubted they could work together. They'd never agree.

Well, they are, and they do.

American leaders should follow them--slash and smile, with a stiff upper lip.

By Ken Adelman

 |  November 30, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Crisis leadership , Followership , Government leadership , Managing Crises , Political leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The next Congress provides the best opportunity | Next: Using the presidential bully pulpit

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