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

Alaina Love
Leadership author

Alaina Love

Alaina Love is co-author, with Marc Cugnon, of The Purpose Linked Organization and co-founder of Purpose Linked Consulting.

Prudent leadership is still MIA

Question: In taking control of the House this week, Republicans have committed themselves to investigating and repealing all of the major initiatives taken by the Democratic president and Congress over the past two years. How much should the new leaders of any organization focus on undoing the past as opposed to charting a more affirmative course for the future?

With 94 freshman members of the House of Representatives taking their seats in the 112th Congress this week, Washington is besieged with new and, in part, untested leaders. Their decisions in the coming months will affect both their home states and the entire nation. Like any leaders new to an organization, Republicans would be wise to carefully examine the hand they've been dealt as a first step in the critical process of establishing credibility and building trust with the American public. Making a commitment to repeal all major Democratic initiatives is both premature and unwise, especially considering the milieu in which the new members of the House will be operating--one of an electorate ripe with frustration and disillusionment with the political system and with political leaders on both sides of the aisle.

Yet this week Republicans announced that they plan to force a vote on January 12th to repeal the Healthcare Reform bill. Not surprisingly, Democrats promised to fight them. It seems that prudent leadership thinking is still missing in action on Capitol Hill, and at best we can look forward to another year of endless debate and limited progress. It's a bad case of déjà vu that doesn't seem to be getting better.

The most successful leaders I have worked with operate from a different playbook. They take time to size up the cultural environment, the team and the health of the business before making major changes. These leaders also develop and then operate with a vision for the future created through thoughtful analysis of the facts--those unblemished by media hype and political posturing. Each decision is examined against that vision to assure that all planned changes will support the growth of the organization far into the future.

Unlike many Washington politicians, successful leaders are not focused on winning short-term popularity contests, because they recognize that organizations, like our political system, are complex entities in which one decision affects a series of other outcomes. They also recognize that the people who comprise the organization will feel the greatest impact of their decisions. The same is true for the average American--those struggling to make ends meet, those still searching for a job. These Americans will be the most affected by the political bickering and stalemates in Washington, and at the same time the most in need of progress that provides them with tangible solutions to their basic survival needs. A new playbook in Washington is long overdue.

Return to all panelist responses

By Alaina Love

 |  January 4, 2011; 11:44 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Congressional leadership , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Confronting our human fallacies | Next: House Reps: Don't throw the baby out with the bath water....


Please report offensive comments below.

I sorely desire to have some good news here, but since I'm a realist, I must tell you find thinkers that this 112th congress will spin their wheels trying to undo the health care bill partly because of the very people that put the newly elected members where they are. It will however be an exercise in futility.And since the Republicans rarely have any fresh or original ideas, things are not likely to get any better in the foreseeable future.

Posted by: tbmuch | January 10, 2011 3:31 AM
Report Offensive Comment

i agree with what you are writing about. i think it will be HIGHLY counter-intuitive to erase the legislation federally in the past two years. obviously as a country, we have to get out of personal and the federal and state governments have to get out of debt. the thing is, these new freshmen congress people, are JACKED up to kill and take away ALL the legislation that was done. i do not know if they can do it or not. but they are going to try. i mean their is a realistic and huge dilemma in our country when discussing our financial debt - both personally and politically. in order for the country to compete in the world markets we have to start investing in the stock market as individuals as well as collectively. we also, as citizens, have to start buying our own insurance. all kind's of insurance, basically...those two modalities - investing in the stock market and buying insurance - are two major points in our economic system. i am pretty conservative when it comes to money and fiscal responsibility, but i am also a person that cares about people and individuals who struggle daily. i also really care about the social and physical wealth of our country. so...but i do not think ALL of this is purely going to go away by political discourse. as citizens we have to own our own lives and our own life's decision's and by doing that we should not be chastised by others or feel asserted will by others if we make poor choices. especially if those choices are not illegal or if those choices did not due great damage to others. instead, i hate too quote john mccain - but the RANCOR that goes on with some of these politicians and how people talk and how they carry themselves shakes people the wrong way sometimes. we are all learning about our government again, we are all learning about the language and the tempo of capitalism, and most of us for the first time. i mean it has been a metaphorical SECRET, at least in this country, how to invest make money and how to live on a budget the grade schools, middle schools and high schools certainly did not teach any form of monetary wisdom or even accurate history of our country. we do not even recognize the metric system here. too rationalize and deduce WHOLE numbers and 5's and 10's - is way easier and broadens a persons learning potential way more than using fractions and counting a kings foot. it is all changing, albeit slowly but, we have been misinformed and slowly mentally euthanized for a very long time in this country...so sorry for the rant...but at least some of it is true.

Posted by: joshua_morrell | January 9, 2011 3:04 PM
Report Offensive Comment

What should be done about the tens of millions of Americans who do not have healt insurance? That's an important and basic question that is seldom asked. If your position is that nothing should be done than say so; it's a legimitate position. But don't be a coward and hide behind the words "socalism" and "Obamacare". Say what you really mean. If you think that something should be done about the uninsured but the present health care reform in not the answer than propose something different. Is the present House going to pass a different reform? I haven't heard of anything. Our present political discourse is all about words and symbols and absent any discussion of basic questions.

My daughter a nurse who voted for McCain tells me about the many hard working people without health insurance she encounters who struggle in meeting their health care needs. If you think that these people should fend for themselves than "man up" and admit it. Don't hide behind "death panels" and the like.

As an aside the democrats are politicaly stupid for nor following the K.I.S.S. principle.

Posted by: ThomasW1 | January 8, 2011 3:30 AM
Report Offensive Comment

I agree with your thesis statement. Whether republican democrat or independt most americans know the real priority of things to be done to get us out of this mess. 1) stop the legal? bribing f our representatives meaningful tough lobby reform laws which could be passed tomorrow wince congress writes and passes law. 2) move the tax spending ration into a balance budget no more fantasy borrowing to pay billionaires money masquerading AS "CONSERVATIVE " WHAT A JOKE. #) MEANINGFUL ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT USING THE THE RICO ACTS TO BRING BACK ACTUAL COMPLETION TO BUSINESS.profit is not a dirty word but contrive price fixing anti competitive shooting fish in a barrel profit is a dirty word.

Posted by: artistkvip1 | January 6, 2011 1:53 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The Republicans are the blood-sucking spawn of pure evil. Which party would want to take away a sick person's right to get medical care? Republicans. Which party would like to take away your right to keep your children on your medical insurance until they're 26? The Republicans. Which party wants you to be denied medical coverage after your benefits reach a certain dollar point ? The Republicans. If the Republicans insist on repealing Obamacare then they will be KILLED in the 2012 election and Barack will simply veto the bill.. Even now they can't come up with a single Republican who is more popular than Barack Obama.Wake up Republicans: Obamacare is now as firmly entrenched as Social Security. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

Posted by: boboberg | January 4, 2011 1:10 PM
Report Offensive Comment

All Americans are deeply effected by "political bickering and stalemates in Washington" because the federal government has been exponentially expanding their control over our lives. Many voters hoped for moderation in 2008 but instead got more abuses in the name of national security and a new entitlement program.

As far as I'm concerned, the Democrats and Republicans are a lose-lose situation until they release us from their ideological battles.

Posted by: morattico | January 4, 2011 1:02 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Post a Comment

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company