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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Worse than mere hubris

Question: It's now obvious that Homeland Security officials misjudged the public reaction to new airport security measures. What should leaders do when confronted with widespread backlash against a decision they still believe to be sound and in which they have invested considerable money and reputation? Should the TSA try to weather the storm or plot a strategic retreat?

If one believes, based on sound research and analysis, that a course of action is absolutely necessary and great harm will result if the desired policies are not followed, one should simply weather the storm in the public interest. But that's a very high bar. If one merely thinks a proposal is "a good idea" and could be helpful, it is not leadership but hubris to try to impose it against the public will. In the private sector, that bar of "necessity" is very unlikely ever to be reached.

In a society in which the public has the freedom to reject a policy or a product, sticking to one's guns even after the people have made clear their opposition is actually worse than mere hubris; it may be a sign of a serious mental condition known as "stupidity".

By Mickey Edwards

 |  November 22, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Corporate leadership , Crisis leadership , Failures , Government leadership , Making mistakes , Managing Crises Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: 'Rapid' turnarounds can be years in the making | Next: Get the messaging right


Please report offensive comments below.

(a) Most of us are not terrorists, nor even close to it. I find it infuriating that the government persists in the PC notion that we must not profile, when it is obvious that profiling the most likely suspects would be far more likely to actually prevent, you know, terrorism.

(b) One of the most liberal administrations is now presiding over one of the most instrusive physical violations of our privacy, while being deaf to the protests of the people.

(c) The role of a bureaucrat is to enforce the rules, regardless of common sense.

Posted by: AZrls | November 24, 2010 2:42 PM
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What ever happened to Bomb Sniffing Dogs?

Posted by: njlasko | November 24, 2010 7:37 AM
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The government has overstepped their bounds! The idea that they can even think of touching our children and spouses in private places is apalling! The TSA must retreat and the people should be made aware of the "government officials" who are profiting from the sale of these X-Ray machines. The public should stand up for their rights before they are given back to them as privileges.

Posted by: barrysal | November 24, 2010 6:05 AM
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Well said!

Posted by: theartistpoet | November 24, 2010 1:24 AM
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Exactly! "Mob mentality" is retarded but this isn't mob mentality; it's a big ole shout to stop the madness!

Posted by: hebe1 | November 23, 2010 3:04 PM
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