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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

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Archive: Making mistakes

A new narrative for Egypt

President Mubarak is a symbol of Egypt's old, repressive government--one that the people want to do away with entirely. His narrative of autocratic and unquestioned rule has been found wanting by the people and...

By Rice University Undergraduate Leaders | February 2, 2011; 04:33 PM ET | Comments (4)

A national symbol of oppression

In pursuit of security and stability in the Middle East, the U.S. has traditionally turned a blind eye to autocratic rule as long as it did not...

By Robert Goodwin | February 2, 2011; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

It's impossible to change direction without support

We're operating in a complex, uncertain environment, and effective leadership today requires embracing change, not resisting it...

By Susan Peters | February 2, 2011; 03:18 PM ET | Comments (1)

Authority does not equal leadership

Ultimately, the authority to lead comes from those who choose to follow. When there is a loss of trust...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | February 1, 2011; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (6)

It's not smart to act as though you're indispensable

The longstanding culture can't be altered overnight, even if many new faces are added. The same old boss will be running the show...

By Yash Gupta | February 1, 2011; 02:11 PM ET | Comments (1)

What Mubarak ignored at his peril

It's hard to see how the case of Egypt, where a giant, explosive divide exists between the wealthy elite and the newly energized masses, will...

By John R. Ryan | February 1, 2011; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

Power to the people

Perhaps Kanye West can claim to be the voice of this generation. It seems the often-maligned rapper was peering into the future when he wrote, in his most recent album, that "no one man should have all that power"--a mantra taken up, at least in spirit, by the millions of Egyptians protesting...

By Coro Fellows | February 1, 2011; 07:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

Managing anger and fear

Somehow it's become accepted to publicly manifest one's anxiety, especially through anger. This is not to say that we won't face significant challenges in the years that lie ahead, but giving way to fear is the first self-indulgent step toward giving up...

By West Point Cadets | January 12, 2011; 06:43 PM ET | Comments (4)

What's your piece of the mess?

Hyperbolic politicians and the media and gun laws may or may not have contributed, Best as I can tell, we are already into heavy demonizing of "the other" in the aftermath of the tragedy...

By Marty Linsky | January 11, 2011; 07:29 PM ET | Comments (1)

It's hard to be hopeful

I am still waiting for a talk show host or politician of any political persuasion to say, "I think my rhetoric has been excessive and...

By Howard Gardner | January 11, 2011; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (3)

In the blame game, no one wins

Those who want to redo 2008 to 2010 will see the decisions that contributed to the fragility of the economy and that have locked the country into two intractable wars had their origins well before this time frame...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | January 5, 2011; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (3)

House Reps: Don't throw the baby out with the bath water....

A leader does not erase the past. A leader will build off the past to forward his or her agenda. Repealing President Obama's health-care bill will not magically bring back the health-care debate of 2008...

By Coro Fellows | January 4, 2011; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (10)

When what you do outweighs who you are

A cloud of allegations hovers over this year's Heisman recipient, and a shadow has been cast on his character and on the integrity of those who chose him. In his case, fact and fiction are somewhat muddled; but what is clear is...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 16, 2010; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (2)

Cam being Cam

Once in an interview in response to the question '"How do you manage all those newly rich, testosterone-rich, self-absorbed men on a professional football team?" Bill Parcells answered exactly the opposite...

By Marty Linsky | December 15, 2010; 01:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

Offer redemption, then show the door

Spending time with my five grand kids always reminds me that children are great mimics. Spending a few minutes with the daily newspaper reminds me that adults are too--and often with far less charming results...

By John R. Ryan | December 15, 2010; 01:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Integrity is essential

Today, more than ever, leaders are expected to set the standard. To be role models and...

By Susan Peters | December 14, 2010; 05:32 PM ET | Comments (3)

Recruiting character and talent

When Joe Gibbs was building the Washington Redskins into Superbowl champions, his stated criteria for drafting players was...

By Michael Maccoby | December 14, 2010; 03:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

One strike and you're out

No exceptions, no matter how high your station, no matter how important you are to the organization. When you violate the fundamental rules of the institutional culture...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | December 14, 2010; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (1)

The road to ruin

Yes, Cam Newton is an incredible football player (I love watching him play), but we must care about the total person we hold up for emulation in our society. This is about repairing, not maintaining, the moral fiber of...

By Don Vandergriff | December 13, 2010; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Creating a Benedict Arnold

As with the Benedict Arnold example, star performers can move up the organization to positions of great responsibility, without a clear understanding of the value of ethical behavior and institutional rules and...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | December 13, 2010; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Losing sight of Lincoln: A mid-course resurrection to save Obama's presidency

Remember, back in 2008, when everyone compared Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln? After he was elected president, Obama himself talked about what he was learning from the 16th president. Fast forward to today: no one is talking about those parallels. Only the most foolish among us would put Obama anywhere near the rarefied stratosphere reserved for our most revered leader.

By Nancy Koehn | December 8, 2010; 01:04 PM ET | Comments (19)

Betrayal is a potent weapon

The hardest part of all of this is that the people who supported Obama because he promised to fight for the little guy are feeling betrayed. And betrayal is a potent weapon in party politics that Republicans will cash in on...

By Kathryn Kolbert | December 8, 2010; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (5)

Obama's 'Sophie's choice'

The public should not accept such blatant manipulation or tolerate being held hostage by power plays and positional bargaining. This legislation is neither bipartisan nor optimum. Neither party achieved...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 8, 2010; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (2)

Obama's authority is suffering

The president looks bad for making sacrifices and gestures, as with the federal wage freeze, and getting nothing in return from the Republicans. All he got was the back of their hand. Who knows. Maybe this will be the slap that...

By Yash Gupta | December 7, 2010; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (7)

On tax cuts, pragmatism vs. principle

The Democrats had an opportunity to tell a story about the tremendous pain that withholding the unemployment extensions could cause to millions, pain which the Republicans were willing to inflict it in order to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy. Yet the debate...

By Coro Fellows | December 7, 2010; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (14)

Another kick-the-can solution

If we ever plan to avoid excessive debt, either Republicans will have to demonstrate the courage to raise taxes or Democrats will have to demonstrate the courage to cut spending...

By Marshall Goldsmith | December 6, 2010; 03:04 PM ET | Comments (2)

Understanding resistance

New TSA procedures have violated what travelers have previously agreed to, and resistance is neither surprising or unmanageable. People will continue to resist change until they fully understand the need for the change and how their...

By West Point Cadets | November 24, 2010; 01:38 PM ET | Comments (4)

Adding insult to injury

This might be the right time for the TSA to pause and regroup to develop a better implementation plan for improved security considering the passenger travel experience, and despite the cost already invested. It's appropriate to admit that they haven't quite gotten this right...

By Alaina Love | November 24, 2010; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (3)

Security isn't just a technical problem

The TSA put forth what was presumably the technically best set of procedures, one that would reduce the likelihood of a terrorist getting on an airplane to close to zero. That's their job. But in the broader picture, TSA's strategy, whatever it is, will not work unless...

By Marty Linsky | November 23, 2010; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (4)

TSA's right and responsibility

I went through security at the Kansas City airport the first day of the new policy and thought I might get a marriage proposal from the fellow from TSA who administered my search. Had I known that a change had been made, his examination would have been less alarming...

By Paul R. Portney | November 23, 2010; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (14)

Give us liberty (and, while you're at it, save us from death)!

the TSA should launch a public education campaign. Such an effort should be devoid of slick propaganda and clever slogans. Rather, I want statistics as well as evidence of nuanced thinking on the part of the decision-makers.

By Coro Fellows | November 23, 2010; 02:13 AM ET | Comments (10)

TSA's tone-deaf strategy

TSA and Homeland Security appear tone-deaf and unwilling to consider the logical next steps (proctological exam anyone?) of a security strategy that focuses on everyone and on intervention at the last possible moment...

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | November 22, 2010; 08:05 PM ET | Comments (3)

Four ways to evaluate such a big decision

There is one area in which leaders cannot reverse: integrity. You can change policy, but you cannot compromise principle. As straightforward as this seems, all too often we have seen...

By John Baldoni | November 22, 2010; 07:47 PM ET | Comments (3)

Close encounters of the unpleasant kind

TSA is in a tough spot. Every encounter with the screening process is destined to be unpleasant: inconvenient waits, intrusions into personal privacy, the risks of rude workers--all the fun of dealing with the IRS, with the awful specter of September 11 in the background as the inescapable reason for the encounter to begin with...

By Donald Kettl | November 22, 2010; 07:25 PM ET | Comments (3)

TSA--and politicians--need to make more unpopular decisions

It is the responsibility of the TSA to protect us, period. TSA leaders must be prepared to make unpopular decisions regarding our safety. Our sensitivities and complaints matter, but in this case leadership means doing something unpopular to keep us safe and fulfilling the responsibilities associated with TSA's mission...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | November 22, 2010; 07:15 PM ET | Comments (10)

Let's end terrorism hysteria

Airport security should have been handled by contractors. If they did something really stupid--like groin-groping--they could be fired. Government folks can't. Plus, then government would be a step removed from glaring stupidity...

By Ken Adelman | November 22, 2010; 03:40 PM ET | Comments (11)

A problem of political correctness

The mistake is not so much in the technology, which is seemingly effective, as it is in the rigid political correctness that all travelers be treated as equally threatening...

By Slade Gorton | November 22, 2010; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

Avoid backlash in the first place

Remember, no one likes change done to them; while most people willingly support change that they are involved in creating...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 22, 2010; 02:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Get the messaging right

Placing the current, less-than-optional measures within a larger, rational context is the best way for leaders to proceed--whether they head airport security or the US government...

By Howard Gardner | November 22, 2010; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Worse than mere hubris

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...

By Mickey Edwards | November 22, 2010; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (5)

'Rapid' turnarounds can be years in the making

The fundamentals of our economy and the talent of our people are strong, but it is our debt and entitlement programs that stall our recovery and long-term profitability as a nation. As with GM, rapid turnaround can come, but it will take hard choices and the courage to reset programs like social security and Medicare...

By Robert Goodwin | November 19, 2010; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

When culture eats strategy

There's a tendency in struggling organizations to focus on fixing systems and processes, as if structural repairs are all that stands between current problems and success. Certainly, GM did plenty of tinkering over the years, but it wasn't enough. That's because often it's the organizational culture--the day-to-day behaviors and beliefs and attitudes of employees at all levels--that needs changing...

By John R. Ryan | November 17, 2010; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

The danger of complacency

In the army, leadership is continuously cycled. Lieutenants tend to only be a platoon leader for 15 months and then become an executive officer or take another staff position. Captains command companies for no longer than 24 months. Further, any military family can relate to the saying, "Home is where the Army sends you." This consistent leadership change keeps unit atmosphere continuously fresh, preventing complacency issues like GM had...

By West Point Cadets | November 16, 2010; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (3)

Combat insularity, confront reality

Failure to confront reality doomed General Motors, as it has many other companies. When you are really big, you tend to lose the hunger for excellence that many smaller companies have. In its early days, General Motors was a formidable competitor. It understood its customers and...

By John Baldoni | November 16, 2010; 10:18 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mapping GM's decline

It was a failure of leadership as astounding and momentous as the company's early achievement. Time will tell if the newly profitable automaker has truly overcome the last three decades of its own history and created an organization as committed to brave, effective and conscientious stewardship as the one that grabbed the industry gauntlet...

By Nancy Koehn | November 16, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (2)

Prior success is a powerful narcotic

Sometimes it takes a clear threat to organizational survival to prompt a new way of doing business that is responsive to changes outside of the company. As we have seen with General Motors before the bankruptcy, sometimes even that is not enough...

By George Reed | November 16, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

The 'mechanics' of leadership

Remember when Rick Wagoner flew by private jet to DC to ask for a bailout? GM's executives ignored the seemingly obvious cost-cutting measure of reducing executive pay--something Toyota enacted without government instruction. A sense of "just" compensation--legitimate or not--prevents both union leaders and executives from making the obvious decision to cut costs...

By Coro Fellows | November 16, 2010; 12:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

GM's 'arrogance' virus

They arrogantly believed that foreign manufacturers were likely to produce lesser products that the American public wouldn't purchase. That is until Toyota came along and ate GM's lunch, Honda their breakfast and European manufacturers their dinner. By the way, GM would be wise to watch out for both Subaru and Hyundai, who are as we speak nibbling on pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres...

By Alaina Love | November 15, 2010; 05:37 PM ET | Comments (3)

Too big to U-turn

A company is asking for trouble when it becomes so big, when its profits are so great, that it believes it can do no wrong. GM's woes are the woes of a company that stopped scanning the landscape to see how the industry could be changing, a company that stuck to the same old formula for success and neglected true innovation, a company that forgot that what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today...

By Yash Gupta | November 15, 2010; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Laud the White House, not Woodward Ave

A mess as big as GM's could not have been fixed this quickly without the U.S bankruptcy code that allowed GM to wipe out its debt and the millions of dollars infused into the restructured company by the Obama Administration. This took guts and calm at a time when there was no good economic news and vigorous political opposition...

By Kathryn Kolbert | November 15, 2010; 01:18 PM ET | Comments (5)

Reviving a boiled frog

It is so much easier for leaders to rally the troops in response to crisis, because the rationale for change--the "burning bridge"--is evident. But today our organizations are dealing with forces that are so dynamic and fast moving that to wait until there is proof of crisis is to respond far too late. The way that the accelerated pace of change drastically shortens response time was once explained to me in the following manner...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 15, 2010; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Know when to let your members off the hook

She has become the issue, rather than keeping front and center the issues she says she cares about--such as restoring the Democratic majority and keeping the White House in 2012. Her seeking re-election to the post is another example of her putting herself above her party and, once again, doing what no legislative party leader should ever do: forcing her members to make a bad vote that is likely to haunt them two years from now. It is as if she has learned nothing at all from...

By Marty Linsky | November 11, 2010; 05:26 PM ET | Comments (4)

Things fall apart

How can Congress make the best use of the next two years? To answer that question it is important to note that the interests of the Democratic Party should not supersede the interests of our nation. Rather, our next minority leader must further bipartisan decision-making. As such, there is no need to look at whether Speaker Pelosi is the best person for the...

By Coro Fellows | November 9, 2010; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (3)

Dems need new blood

If the Democrats' congressional leadership is unchanged after the party has taken such a hit, it might well create the additional problem of discouraging frank and open conversation about the necessary changes that the Democrats must consider. They just can't stick to the same old recipe...

By Yash Gupta | November 9, 2010; 02:58 PM ET | Comments (3)

Acceptable vs unacceptable failures

If your personal values are aligned with those of your organization, you will know how much and what type of failure is too much. If you hold true to your values and have the courage to accept responsibility for your actions, you'll know when you need to step aside. At the end of the day, we must act...

By West Point Cadets | November 9, 2010; 02:41 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Pelosi is like KU's Coach Gill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a situation many authority figures face when they are linked to poor results. But Pelosi can take heart, she has a kindred spirit here in the Heartland. University of Kansas head football coach, Turner Gill, isn't a politician, but his job is political. As does Pelosi, Gill makes his living in a full-contact activity. Each also faces a growing chorus of detractors wanting...

By Ed O'Malley | November 9, 2010; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (1)

Good leaders never give up? Nonsense

Forget the myth nurtured on the football field that leaders never give up. Nonsense. True leaders are smart enough to know when to stop bashing their heads against opposition stronger than themselves. Even smarter ones, and may I add more courageous ones, know that the bravest thing to do is to give up...

By John Baldoni | November 8, 2010; 06:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

'How sweet it is to wear the crown'

We Republicans are delighted that the Democratic faces in Congress remain those of Pelosi and Reid. Their decisions to remain leaders is bad news for Democrats. Yet it's surprisingly unsurprising. Even great historic leaders like Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Maggie Thatcher, and many others simply hung on too long. Why do they, even after achieving great feats? Shakespeare puts the reason simply: "How sweet it is to wear the crown"...

By Ken Adelman | November 8, 2010; 05:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

Hope: Version 2.0?

Question: Like U.S. presidents, military and non-profit leaders often face the equivalent of "midterm elections" in which they and their strategies are subject to an initial market test or performance evaluation. What's the first thing President Obama, or any leader,...

By Coro Fellows | November 3, 2010; 02:26 PM ET | Comments (3)

Start with "what" and "why"

When plans and strategies appear to falter, the simplest questions are often the ones that are the most overlooked. "What were we trying to accomplish and why?" At the strategic level, these answers should be tied to our professed national values and the protection our U.S. security interests. The result should be a clear statement of purpose and the development of well-defined...

By Col. Charles D. Allen | November 3, 2010; 01:40 PM ET | Comments (1)

Appraise the past to build the future

There is no better avenue for swift strengthening of one's leadership than to uncompromisingly review the immediate past. If President Obama and his team can dissect what went well and what did not in the first two years, their leadership of the second two will be far better for...

By Michael Useem | November 1, 2010; 06:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Five ways to serve the people

Take responsibility: if your key stakeholders believe that you have made a mistake, you have made a mistake (either in strategy, communication or style). Avoid 'blaming' your stakeholders...

By Marshall Goldsmith | November 1, 2010; 03:18 PM ET | Comments (2)

Acknowledge the reality

I once asked an executive team what they were going to do with the devastating results of an employee survey. The managers' first reaction was, "Well, we certainly can't post those!" To which, I replied, "Why not?...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 1, 2010; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (2)

The worst 'expert' flubs

Most critical is for the leader to realize that experts don't have a perfect track record. Far from it. If you're not already skeptical of expert opinion, glance over these doozies...

By Ken Adelman | September 29, 2010; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

Put yourself in another's spit-shined shoes

A key to effective leadership is for the leader to be able to put himself in the shoes of each of his lieutenants, and for the lieutenants, in turn, to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the leader. If senior military officers were unable to understand what President Obama was requesting...

By Howard Gardner | September 27, 2010; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Don't just defer to experts

It is the job of the "leader" to accumulate as many inputs as possible, decide how much weight to give to each view, consider what data points or perspectives are missing, and then come to a decision based on his or her own evaluation of the viable options to be considered. To simply defer to experts is to abdicate...

By Mickey Edwards | September 27, 2010; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

No such thing as 'too big to manage'

With 'big' comes 'challenging', but definitely not 'impossible'.

By Marshall Goldsmith | July 20, 2010; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Stop expecting deliverance

Israel cannot continue to put governing bodies, like the United States, in compromising positions and expect deliverance every time.

By Coro Fellows | June 2, 2010; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (6)

Four leadership lessons

You want to be a hero, a leader, a celebrity? Great. Then are you ready to sacrifice and give up what the rest of us can get away with?

By Warren Bennis | December 10, 2009; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (2)

Like women leaders

Woods now finds himself in a position familiar to many women leaders: struggling with the high expectations.

By Marie Wilson | December 10, 2009; 06:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

No option but one

Tiger should strive to make his public image as close as possible to the reality of who he is.

By Bob Schoultz | December 9, 2009; 03:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Taking our money

While we must all respect a person's privacy, what's missing is the same thing the companies that received taxpayer dollars missed: the expectations and standards that come with taking money from the public.

By Robert Goodwin | December 9, 2009; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

Paradise lost

Tiger the athlete is supremely disciplined and smart. We thought the person was, too. Sadly, Tiger the person appears to be extraordinarily undisciplined and stupid.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | December 9, 2009; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (2)

'God's own fool'

Justice and the art of good management really do require us, as Mark Twain recommends, to "contemplate with respect" the miscreants we encounter.

By Robert Bruner | December 9, 2009; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Maximum mea culpa

The best defense by far would have been not to have offended.

By Slade Gorton | December 9, 2009; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

'Be like Tiger?'

For the "CEO of golf" or any other leader who is famous and highly regarded, transparency is crucial. He has to say everything that needs saying, and it must be in public, not on a Web site.

By Yash Gupta | December 8, 2009; 02:49 PM ET | Comments (26)

Gossip on a massive scale

Twittering about Tiger's affair is entertainment. Let's not elevate gossip to the level of discourse by pretending his private life has any impact on our own.

By Coro Fellows | December 8, 2009; 02:31 PM ET | Comments (6)

Protecting Tiger, Inc.

Why do we even care about his personal life? Perhaps it's because we have, inappropriately, placed too high of expectations on Tiger Woods to be a role model or to exercise leadership.

By Ed O'Malley | December 8, 2009; 01:36 PM ET | Comments (5)

A shirked responsibility

As a new kind of global leader, Tiger Woods carries a responsibility that cannot be shirked or stuffed in a drawer called "protecting his brand."

By Nancy Koehn | December 7, 2009; 04:22 PM ET | Comments (40)

'Choice' of perfections

It is a mistake to believe that someone who approaches perfection in one area can be perfect in all of life.

By Michael Maccoby | December 7, 2009; 04:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

Just a role model

Tiger Woods has shown himself not to be a responsible family man, but his power as a role model for success remains intact.

By Howard Gardner | December 7, 2009; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (5)

Caddying for us

We often do not understand the real character of famous people, or our friends for that matter, until we see them operate under duress.

By Marty Linsky | December 7, 2009; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

Arrogance defined

Stiff arming the public that has respected him, admired him, and granted him his celebrity status reveals something about his character.

By Beth A. Brooke | December 7, 2009; 01:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

Surprisingly clueless

Golf is hard. Reacting to revelations of such personal failure isn't.

By Ken Adelman | December 7, 2009; 01:10 PM ET | Comments (1)

A divided life

At the core of authentic leadership is the necessity of ensuring that there is no material difference between one's on-stage life and one's back-stage life.

By Bill Shore | December 7, 2009; 01:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

Loyalty, Schmoyalty

Van Jones had to go. For the president to keep him would have been somewhere between gratuitous masochism and pandering to constituents who are already on the team.

By Marty Linsky | September 10, 2009; 01:30 PM ET | Comments (5)

Nation First

The president will suffer a hit over this episode, but the greater concern is that the national agenda is sidetracked

By Yash Gupta | September 9, 2009; 04:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's Failure

Loyalty creates loyalty and sacrificing Jones was a mistake that may prove costly.

By Michael Maccoby | September 9, 2009; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (4)

Taking One for the Team

In politics, there is only one person who is not expendable: in this case, the president. If a member of staff becomes a distraction, it is a time-honored tradition in politics for that person to take one for the team.

By Alan M. Webber | September 9, 2009; 05:20 AM ET | Comments (8)

Victory for Demagogues

If the president wasn't battling attacks against positive educational messages and a fact-based health-care debate, he should have fought for Van.

By Paul Schmitz | September 8, 2009; 04:58 PM ET | Comments (35)

Not Worth Fighting For

I imagine President Obama was not very sorry to see Van Jones leave.

By Mickey Edwards | September 8, 2009; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (5)

Waiting for Choppy Water

Values guide organizations -- and administrations -- so you can't wait for choppy waters to get serious about living those values.

By Beth A. Brooke | September 8, 2009; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (2)

Loss of Confidence

While Mr. Jones likely violated no rule or law, he lost the trust and confidence of the administration that he could serve without bias.

By Col. Michael E. Haith (Ret.) | September 8, 2009; 12:13 PM ET | Comments (3)

Opt for Effectiveness

It's not enough to be bright, or even right; you also have to be effective.

By John H. Cochran, MD | September 8, 2009; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (2)

A Slip of the Tongue

The fact that the president listened, heard, and acted to mitigate the damage of his unfortunate comment is a test of good leadership.

By Kathy Kretman | August 6, 2009; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (1)


With the beer summit, Obama turned down the heat and calmed the situation, just what we want people in authority to do for us: Make things nice.

By Marty Linsky | August 5, 2009; 02:23 PM ET | Comments (15)

Loose Lips Sink Political Ships

For senior leaders, there is no such thing as a casual conversation, especially when you are in front of the camera.

By George Reed | August 5, 2009; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Phony Staging

A quieter meeting inside the White House without all the hoopla might have had a more profound impact on the American public.

By Pablo Eisenberg | August 5, 2009; 02:16 PM ET | Comments (1)

Health Care Summit

If President Obama can bring leaders together on both sides of the health care debate, I think all Americans would be happy to buy the first round.

By Robert Goodwin | August 5, 2009; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (1)

When the Shade Snaps Up

Politics is so scripted today that most Americans are especially attuned to those brief and usually unwanted glimpses of what a politician is really thinking.

By Bill Shore | August 4, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Sign for Obama's Mirror

I have a habit of putting a key reminder on my mirror to read each morning when I'm shaving. President Obama needs to have one that says 53/47, to remind him that nearly half of voters last year still went for his opponent.

By John R. Ryan | August 4, 2009; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Very Human

Obama's recovery was good, but in some ways perhaps too measured, in contrast to his initially spontaneous reaction.

By Rick Rochelle | August 4, 2009; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Opportunity Still Ahead

President Obama has set the stage. We must determine that we will no longer accept that only 10 percent of African American and Hispanic students who enter 9th grade graduate from college and the many other racial disparities in our society today.

By Yash Gupta | August 4, 2009; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Power of the Personal Story

Can the administration find a story as engagingly positive on health-care reform as the Gates-Crowley story was engagingly negative?

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | August 4, 2009; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (18)

Stupidity Begets Stupidity

The president instead blended confidence and humility by owning his mistake and seeking to fix it, despite the frustration he must feel knowing that from the arrest forward, it was all pretty stupid.

By Paul Schmitz | August 4, 2009; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

Washington-Style Leadership

I often wonder how much "leadership" transpires in the White House. I picture every decision staffed and vetted with a multitude of advisers.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | August 4, 2009; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (2)

Self-Created Problems

Better to be silent and thought insensitive than to speak out and prove it.

By Slade Gorton | August 4, 2009; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

Less Beer, More Honesty

Candidate Obama criticized then-President Bush for not admitting mistakes. I think President Obama missed an opportunity here to distinguish himself from "politics as usual."

By Bob Schoultz | August 4, 2009; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Distorted Loudspeaker

Our president may have learned that he has to weigh his words carefully, most especially when uninformed or not carefully briefed on all the facts.

By Warren Bennis | August 4, 2009; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Essential Assist

Pres. Obama did not want to revisit the Gates-Crowley affair after his "stupidly" remark at the press conference. It was Michelle Obama and, I would guess, Valerie Jarrett who said to him, in effect, "You made this worse, now make it better."

By Howard Gardner | August 3, 2009; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (11)

Don't Wait for It to 'Blow Over'

If you are trying to accomplish important goals, don't throw out a divisive, emotionally charged observation. If you do, however, act quickly and don't wait for it to "blow over."

By Michael Maccoby | August 3, 2009; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (1)

Worth a Thousand Words

Leadership is the ability to respond quickly to situations, including "correcting" mistakes or mis-speaks.

By Andy Stern | August 3, 2009; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (2)

A Bias for Action

The first report is always wrong. But once known, facts should be deliberately confronted.

By Gen. John Batiste (Ret.) | August 3, 2009; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

'Four Seasons' Service

The Four Seasons Hotels are known for excellence, but not because they don't make mistakes. Rather, they have a deeply ingrained culture of recognizing their mistakes and making up for the mistake in ways that make the customer happy.

By Roger Martin | August 3, 2009; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (1)

A Stroke of Leadership Genius

Obama saw the potential to demonstrate qualities that people value just as much as toughness and steadfastness in a leader: Willingness to admit error is one.

By Steven Pearlstein | August 3, 2009; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (19)

When Leaders Act Like Human Beings

When a leader admits to mistakes and reaches out to others for reconciliation, he or she makes it easier for others to just be human.

By Marshall Goldsmith | August 3, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

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