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Archive: Presidential leadership

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)

The future for Egypt could look grim

The danger for Egypt, the Middle East and U.S. interests is that the explosive demand for human rights will result in a religious dictatorship even more repressive than...

By Michael Maccoby | February 1, 2011; 02:06 PM ET | Comments (3)

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)

Four obstacles for Mubarak

If there is a system where people have been repressed, unemployment is high and emotions have been smoldering, then the pressure builds; and when the cork is pulled out, it is very hard to put it back in...

By Deborah Ancona | February 1, 2011; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mubarak's chance for better legacy

As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it," and such is the case with Mubarak...

By Alaina Love | February 1, 2011; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (4)

Leadership: Part action, part perception

Although President Mubarak may still hold the 'formal' authority of his role, it's informal authority that is now at stake...

By Amy Fraher | February 1, 2011; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (2)

Egypt needs a new leader

No way can a leader lousy for 30 years become someone poised for greatness in the future...

By Ken Adelman | February 1, 2011; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (4)

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)

The president's State of the Union report card

How would you grade Obama's State of the Union speech?

By Lillian Cunningham | January 26, 2011; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (17)


Speeches are bountiful and talk is cheap...

By Paul R. Portney | January 26, 2011; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (1)


He was future focused, as I believe all good leaders must be...

By Gail S. Williams | January 26, 2011; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (0)


From the point of view of leadership, not politics, the president's speech did several things right...

By Joanne B. Ciulla | January 26, 2011; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (1)


If you were a technology entrepreneur, there was a lot to like. If you were one of the 48 million Americans living below the poverty line, you must feel not only voiceless but invisible...

By Bill Shore | January 26, 2011; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (1)


Witness tonight's anemic Republican response...

By Warren Bennis | January 26, 2011; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)


It was a message that inspires us to recall and embrace the true American character: a nation of people who believe in themselves, who value freedom and democracy...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | January 26, 2011; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)


While President Obama began his State of the Union address with an appeal to cooperation and working together, his central challenge to the members of Congress and the nation was creating jobs (mentioned 25 times)...

By Jim Kouzes | January 26, 2011; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)


As an educator, I appreciated his emphasis on education...

By Rick Rochelle | January 26, 2011; 09:56 AM ET | Comments (1)


I know that most panelists will be commenting on the substance of President Obama's remarks, but as an executive coach with expertise in nonverbal communication, here is my rating for the president's body language...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | January 26, 2011; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (2)


Obama has finally grown into his presidential shoes...

By Juana Bordas | January 26, 2011; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (1)


This was not an exciting speech, and there was not a lot of detail on how to move forward. There was no dramatic plan for dealing with a deficit that...

By Deborah Ancona | January 25, 2011; 11:48 PM ET | Comments (0)


Consensus building is a messy process. I have seen this within a team of just 12 individuals, let alone 535 voting members of Congress...

By Coro Fellows | January 25, 2011; 11:48 PM ET | Comments (3)


The atmosphere in the chamber was muted in a strange way--one almost felt as though the Congress believed they...

By Peter Hart | January 25, 2011; 11:45 PM ET | Comments (0)


America is back. The Chilean story toward the end provided the unifying narrative--a small town guy running a small company in Pennsylvania, leading the rescue without waiting for any coach to call him into play...

By Ronald Heifetz | January 25, 2011; 11:43 PM ET | Comments (5)


The picture was of a united body with the president leading. And as we know, the picture is a crucial political takeaway...

By Kathryn Kolbert | January 25, 2011; 11:40 PM ET | Comments (0)


Can we rally behind a committed centrist?

By Marty Linsky | January 25, 2011; 11:32 PM ET | Comments (1)


I give the speech a "B."

By Barbara Kellerman | January 25, 2011; 11:30 PM ET | Comments (0)


The American people sent a very clear message this last election that they were tired of the expansion of government and it excesses. And President Obama did little to communicate that he truly understands the concerns of citizens...

By Robert Goodwin | January 25, 2011; 11:27 PM ET | Comments (4)


His catch phrase, "Win the future," was simple and compelling...

By Martin Davidson | January 25, 2011; 11:23 PM ET | Comments (1)


The challenge for the future, in growing 21st century jobs, was forceful and engaging. The blueprint for getting government and its budget under control, however, was much weaker...

By Donald Kettl | January 25, 2011; 11:20 PM ET | Comments (0)


The speech promoted an understanding of the stark reality we're facing and demanded of us a willingness to sacrifice to...

By Alaina Love | January 25, 2011; 11:14 PM ET | Comments (1)


A great beginning ("sit together tonight, and work together tomorrow") and a great theme ("Winning the Future"). And, like most of these speeches in the past, the rest is pretty much forgotten...

By Barry Posner | January 25, 2011; 10:49 PM ET | Comments (0)


President Obama's speech was a "A" in tone and style but was a "D" on substance, especially in connection with...

By David Walker | January 25, 2011; 10:47 PM ET | Comments (9)


Overall the challenge for a leader is to link a broad, often disparate set of important activities into a coherent theme. This speech...

By Tom Monahan | January 25, 2011; 10:45 PM ET | Comments (0)


The minus is because I consider that, besides science and technology, both innovation and a good life require education in the arts and...

By Michael Maccoby | January 25, 2011; 10:36 PM ET | Comments (1)


He told stories. And it's stories that a family (or our political family) lives by, especially in such a complicated time...

By Marie Wilson | January 25, 2011; 10:35 PM ET | Comments (0)


Good themes, too long.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | January 25, 2011; 10:32 PM ET | Comments (4)

President Hu's challenge

The thawing of tensions between the U.S. and China isn't going to come overnight--and it wasn't going to be achieved this week alone...

By Robert Goodwin | January 21, 2011; 06:25 PM ET | Comments (3)

Mutual understanding

Now, with sudden prosperity, Chinese leaders fear fragmentation and a demanding peasant population that has been left behind. Chinese leaders believe their continued authority depends on...

By Michael Maccoby | January 19, 2011; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (5)

Following Chinese precedent

I am convinced that symbolic gestures of goodwill between leaders are the sociological WD-40 that greases the wheels for intense negotiations...

By D. Michael Lindsay | January 19, 2011; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (33)

Hu Jintao's classic dilemma

Challenges to his leadership come indirectly, creating situations that box him in without a direct confrontation, as in the military's test of a new weapon apparently without his prior knowledge. But two can play that game...

By Mickey Edwards | January 19, 2011; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (3)

Expanding the center of all nations

China's success will not be defined by sheer size alone or by military might. Rather, it will be characterized by the quality of the relationships China builds and...

By Alaina Love | January 18, 2011; 05:07 PM ET | Comments (4)

China and the art of communication

Politicians, economists and the media in the United States have connected China's undervaluation of the yuan and its multi-billion dollar trade surplus with a lack of domestic American jobs...

By Coro Fellows | January 18, 2011; 03:35 AM ET | Comments (1)

We need more Joseph Welch moments

Some of the louder voices in our society these days seem to believe that extremely bitter criticism of the government equates with the deepest patriotism. That's not necessarily the case...

By Yash Gupta | January 11, 2011; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (2)

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)

The mobilizer: President Obama

I don't agree with all of President Obama's policy agenda, but it is hard to argue that he has been anything but successful in advancing the very types of policies he said he would...

By Ed O'Malley | December 29, 2010; 09:42 AM ET | Comments (1)

The overcomer: Barack Obama

My reason for choosing him as leader of the year is that he, more than anyone else, has guided, pushed and often persuaded skeptical and independent legislators to...

By Michael Maccoby | December 22, 2010; 04:02 PM ET | Comments (12)

The issue confronter: Bill Clinton

I don't always agree with his politics or his approach, but I think he has shown a willingness to take on the tough...

By Robert Goodwin | December 22, 2010; 03:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

The protectors: Salvatore Giunta and George W. Bush

The reasons both men held the national spotlight could not have been more different, but the two figures are inextricably linked...

By Col. Charles D. Allen | December 20, 2010; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (5)

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)

Playing from weakness

Obama's strength has been in the results he has won; his weakness has been in a failure to communicate his reasoning for accepting less than he has wanted...

By Michael Maccoby | December 7, 2010; 04:39 PM ET | Comments (4)

The tax cuts show progress

This is the essence of compromise, and gives us at least some hope of a constructive next year or so, perhaps even including...

By Slade Gorton | December 7, 2010; 11:56 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)

Not the right deal to cut

While some compromise is necessary and should be encouraged, this "deal" does not seem reasonable from a fiscal responsibility and social equity perspective. It seems that President Obama is operating from a position of weakness and the Republicans from...

By David Walker | December 7, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (10)

Obama needs to take a stand

Obama looks like an individual without strong values for which he is willing to go to the mat--except for the value of mediation and compromise, which does not work when you occupy a role that requires decisions and the appearance of decisiveness...

By Howard Gardner | December 7, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (4)

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)

Compromise is king

Standing up for what you believe to be the right decision is the very definition of leadership. But standing tall for every idea you have is delusional...

By John Baldoni | December 6, 2010; 05:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Grow up, Washington

We've become a nation of immediate gratification, which has contributed to the current economic debacle, coupled with leadership in Washington that refuses to make the very bold decisions that can right our economy again...

By Alaina Love | December 6, 2010; 04:30 PM ET | Comments (3)

Gridlock has its rewards

It's tragic what Obama has to endure from Republicans, or they from him, or all of us from all of them. So what's new? Our political system was designed thus...

By Ken Adelman | December 6, 2010; 04:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Sacrifice a little now or a lot later

Both parties want to reward their wealthy contributors, who make up the "elite" and possess no real understanding of how successful nations sustain their greatness--which is by maintaining a meritocracy, where anyone with hard work and smarts can...

By Don Vandergriff | December 6, 2010; 02:59 PM ET | Comments (8)

Obama allowed himself to be politically boxed in

While the left railed against tax breaks for "billionaires," that is not what was on the table. In the end, the president had to compromise because he had staked out a position that was untenable, especially in a time that required providing families with...

By Mickey Edwards | December 6, 2010; 02:23 PM ET | Comments (8)

Progress deferred on equal pay for women

Progress created by the Ledbetter Act was hamstrung last month by the failed passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The National Organization for Women explains that the act would have deterred wage discrimination by diminishing workarounds in the law and by minimizing retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.

By Selena Rezvani | December 3, 2010; 03:38 PM ET | Comments (1)

Equal-opportunity pain delivery

We really do not want our politicians to exercise leadership. We want them to take care of us and deliver any pain that is necessary to someone else. That's why we have...

By Marty Linsky | December 1, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (3)

The federal budget as metaphor

Our values and beliefs are embedded in the numbers, and changing the balance sheet is about changing ourselves. Balancing the budget is not just a realistic reallocation of resources; it is a metaphor for our belief about the American character...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 1, 2010; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

We need more government sacrifice

President Obama's move to freeze federal workers' pay and soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner's jettisoning of his private plane are wise moves, but they are mostly symbolic. Our leaders need to be willing to do more and cut our spending down to the point we are just about to hit bone...

By Robert Goodwin | December 1, 2010; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (6)

Looking for love from an unloving public

The only successful way to ensure that Congress will swallow the bitter pill is to have them authorize a neutral group to make the tough decisions and then make sure that Congress is prohibited from making changes to...

By Kathryn Kolbert | December 1, 2010; 09:42 AM ET | Comments (4)

Using the presidential bully pulpit

People on the Right see big government and taxes as the main threat to liberty and prosperity. On the Left, people view cutting the federal budget as a threat to the needy. It is unlikely that the president can persuade either extreme to share a common purpose. But...

By Michael Maccoby | November 30, 2010; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

Slash and smile, with a stiff upper lip

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...

By Ken Adelman | November 30, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

The next Congress provides the best opportunity

The American people are conflicted between a horror of mounting debt and deficits and their desire not to have their own benefits slashed, so neither party can be successful alone...

By Slade Gorton | November 30, 2010; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leading a moral imperative

Shared sacrifice reinforces the moral imperative of any leadership proposition. And we have a word for men and women who put themselves and their ideas forward for the good of the organization, even when it may mean they have to give up something. We call them leaders...

By John Baldoni | November 30, 2010; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Americans are starved for fiscal truth

We can do it in an intelligent and phased-in manner before a crisis is at our doorstep; or else it will have to be done in a sudden, dramatic and possibly draconian manner in the face of a crisis. The choice is ours...

By David Walker | November 30, 2010; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama needs to go to the mat

It is important to stress, to repeat, that in the latter years of the Clinton administration, there was actually a budget surplus. If we could have a surplus a decade ago, there is no reason in principle that we can't have one some years from now...

By Howard Gardner | November 30, 2010; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Upending conventional wisdom

It seems that at the root of the spending and tax problem is a deficiency in the behavior of the American public, deepened through citizens' misaligned expectations of their leaders...

By Coro Fellows | November 30, 2010; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (4)

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)

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)

How to take feedback

It has been said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. A benefit of living in a democratic society is that the people have a voice. Whether or not this week's public feedback changes the makeup of our elected leadership, every leader should first take an honest look at their future plans and at the successes or failures of past performance. Behind every contentious issue is an opportunity to do...

By West Point Cadets | November 3, 2010; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

The people have spoken--listen and speak back

I thought it was telling that President Obama went on Jon Stewart's show last week and complained that the public wasn't aware of everything his administration has accomplished. Who exactly is to blame for that? The president and his team, who have let their opponents define them. He's a master orator, but he needs to do a better job of communicating empathy and understanding where the problems of Main Street Americans are...

By Yash Gupta | November 2, 2010; 11:08 AM ET | Comments (11)

Every day is election day

It's hard--probably impossible--to get everyone behind you, and good leaders will always get feedback from their teams that is surprising, even disappointing. But good leaders headed to greatness are those who brush off the dust, check their egos, listen...

By Susan Peters | November 2, 2010; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

Work with those that would see you fail

We should not accept the appearance rather than the reality of cooperation; nor can we tolerate the unconditional resistance to change seen these past two years. In the long term those who are all about power not purpose, about self-interest not the common good, about control not compassion will be exposed as non-leaders...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 2, 2010; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (5)

Obama needs to embrace his critics

One of Obama's biggest mistakes in his first two years has been disdaining his critics, beginning with his demeaning reference at that San Francisco fundraiser during his own campaign and culminating in...

By Marty Linsky | November 2, 2010; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (5)

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)

Take a deep breath

What that means for a leader is that setbacks, even those personally directed at your leadership, are not about you as a person; they are about you as a leader. You must consider such feedback or setback as a challenge. What you do after being tested is the measure of your...

By John Baldoni | November 1, 2010; 05:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

First, focus on jobs

Unfortunately, the midterm elections contain no good news for President Obama and the Democratic party. The mantra that Bill Clinton never forgot--"It's the economy, stupid"--must become President Obama's mantra as well. The disastrous losses in this midterm vote gives the White House a perfect opportunity to refocus on...

By Kathryn Kolbert | November 1, 2010; 04:19 PM ET | Comments (7)

Obama's gift of opportunity

Rather than respond defensively to unambiguously negative feedback, the first thing any organizational leader should do is to thank his evaluators for the opportunity to tackle the areas of deficiency and make things right before problems escalate to irreparable levels. Whether considering President Obama or...

By Amy Fraher | November 1, 2010; 03:28 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)

It's not what he says, it's whether he means it

President Obama will say, as all presidents have under similar circumstances, that he congratulates the winners, has heard the message sent by the voters and looks forward to working with the new Congress for the good of the American people. He will then visit countries where he is more popular...

By Slade Gorton | November 1, 2010; 03:14 PM ET | Comments (1)

Obama's three first steps

More important than speed is thoughtfulness. President Obama should take time to study the results of the election, plus any associated polling and background interviews and information. Thereafter he should do three things...

By Howard Gardner | November 1, 2010; 03:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

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)

James Madison was right

Scrape away the personal attacks, lies and distortions, and we are faced with different interests, passions and theories about what is best for America. Madison was hopeful that an enlightened electorate (and this only included white males with property) would select leaders "whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and...

By Michael Maccoby | October 27, 2010; 01:04 PM ET | Comments (3)

Painting states into colors

The current political campaign language is deeply divisive. Painting states into colors denies our diversity and reinforces the delusion of independence. It rewards insularity and social callousness, i.e., "if I have adequate health care and you don't it's not my problem"; "if my children can get the best education and yours can't, that's too bad"...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | October 26, 2010; 12:17 PM ET | Comments (5)

Disappoint your own people at a rate they can absorb

Elections themselves are the antithesis of leadership. They are as pure a form of authority seeking and pandering as exists in a democratic society. Public yearning for leadership in the run-up to elections is inappropriate and naive. We have designed it that way, creating a system that keeps aspiring office-holders as close to voters as possible. But shame on the successful politician who does not exercise leadership in the months right after the...

By Marty Linsky | October 26, 2010; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Defusing our fiscal time bomb

It will be interesting to see whether President Obama and the new Congressional leadership can pivot after the elections in a manner that will allow some progress in defusing our fiscal time bomb. It clearly is in our nation's interest for them to do so, and hopefully they...

By David Walker | October 26, 2010; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

On compromise and campaign finance

The concept of compromise as a desirable end-result neglects the notion that differences are often acceptable and, indeed, desirable--it should not necessarily be the goal of government to bring all people together. This seems to be particularly true around hot-button social issues, when a politician's "values" are being tested, and compromising to build consensus might compromise...

By Coro Fellows | October 26, 2010; 08:41 AM ET | Comments (13)

Dramatic changes are possible

President Obama campaigned on the promise to be a post-partisan president and governed from the beginning as a hard partisan, so dramatic changes are certainly possible. After November, Republicans will be far stronger than they are now, but they clearly will not be...

By Slade Gorton | October 25, 2010; 04:53 PM ET | Comments (2)

Deciding in a state of ignorance

Seasoned decision-makers value experts' views---but view experts skeptically. They learn to cross-examine them with ferocity. They learn to create "Red" teams and "Blue" teams. The Red Team is charged with providing the affirmative account of...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | September 29, 2010; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Getting team buy-in

Leaders who are looking for more creativity need to put their people in different surroundings and reframe the questions in ways that probe the underlying philosophy and criteria for an effective solution first, rather than specifics. Devising your own solution might work if you are president of the United States, but...

By Kathryn Kolbert | September 29, 2010; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

The right way to engage military leaders

The fact that a debate on the strategic direction occurred, allowing for conflicting and dissenting points of view within the Bush administration, is characteristic of healthy civil-military relations. Senior military officers--the theater and operational commanders as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff--were engaged in discourse...

By Col. Charles D. Allen | September 28, 2010; 03:19 PM ET | Comments (1)

Respect your advisers

President Obama has the difficult task of serving as a commander-in-chief without a military background, while working with career military people. He's not the first president in this position, of course. It just means he has to be extremely well prepared on military matters. He doesn't need to know nitty-gritty details...

By Yash Gupta | September 28, 2010; 02:26 PM ET | Comments (2)

The president as decider

This president is very logical, thoughtful and deliberative in the way he makes decisions; he doesn't appear to be impulsive or easily swayed by poll numbers grading his likability or direction. There seems to be healthy ability to obtain counsel from smart people who don't always see things the same way and who aren't afraid...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | September 28, 2010; 02:18 PM ET | Comments (1)

Experts and advisers and leaders, oh my

A generation who judges its importance by numbers of blog followers and Facebook friends is bereft of leadership that dares to be unpopular. However, the "unpopular" role is one that leaders often have to play. If expert advice conflicts with what leadership senses is the best...

By Coro Fellows | September 28, 2010; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

The leader as chief strategist

The challenge with senior advisers and other content experts is that they are often just that --experts with deep, specialized knowledge in a narrow domain. They are not attuned to the language, framing and packaging required to sell a difficult decision to...

By Sally Blount | September 27, 2010; 04:46 PM ET | Comments (2)

Obama's challenge

Perhaps a reassuring father figure like FDR or Ronald Reagan could persuade Americans that they have nothing to fear but fear itself, that our best days are ahead of us. But Obama is not a father figure...

By Michael Maccoby | September 14, 2010; 05:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

Obama and Fenty guilty of poor communication

Leaders are the ones who create consensus. That might sound like a contradictory phrase, but it's true; people will follow leaders who clearly explain the reasons why their proposals and programs address the public's needs and desires.

By Yash Gupta | September 14, 2010; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (6)

Obama's new airline law: Safety loopholes

The appointment of committees and task forces filled with many of the same industry insiders who overlooked these problems in the first place, combined with vague wording and compliance deadlines three years into the future means change in commercial aviation will come slowly, if at all.

By Amy Fraher | August 10, 2010; 09:37 AM ET | Comments (5)

Trying a little tenderness

President Obama already demonstrated that he is willing to chastise Israel and that did little to move Netanyahu toward peace negotiations. There is little downside to seeing if flattery and stroking will do the trick.

By Kathryn Kolbert | July 9, 2010; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (14)

The ties that bind

President Obama's softer words on Wednesday don't represent retreat or compromise. Rather, they serve as a reminder that what unites Israel and the U.S. is stronger that what may occasionally divide the two nations.

By Robert Goodwin | July 9, 2010; 12:37 PM ET | Comments (7)

Chipping away at our structural debt

Concrete actions rather than words or processes will be needed to restore the public's faith in government. The time to start is now!

By David Walker | June 25, 2010; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (1)

Dissension in the ranks

The President as a leader needs to let his team know he will not tolerate selfish behavior that distracts from the important work at hand.

By Yash Gupta | June 24, 2010; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (0)

Spain's leadership default

Spain's biggest short-term problem is not a threat of insolvency but a misguided leadership and communication strategy.

By Angel Cabrera | June 9, 2010; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

What it takes to mediate

Any hope of breaking this cycle of reactivity between Israel and Turkey rests with their mutual friend and ally: the United States.

By Katherine Tyler Scott | June 3, 2010; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ain't misbehavin'

Neither Israel or Turkey see themselves as "misbehaving." Both are behaving in a way that they feel is consistent with their own values

By Marshall Goldsmith | June 2, 2010; 04:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sharp words for despicable conduct

Saying nothing in the face of despicable conduct is a tacit acceptance of a friend's behavior and speaks volumes about your own cowardice.

By Kathryn Kolbert | June 2, 2010; 08:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting the facts straight

The blockade was not an 'Israeli blockade' but a blockade established jointly by Israel and Egypt. The leadership challenge, for the president and Congress, is to first gather as much information as possible.

By Mickey Edwards | June 2, 2010; 07:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

The problem with friends

Leaders can and should disassociate themselves from friends who make ethical transgressions.

By John Baldoni | June 1, 2010; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (5)

More than a 'tut-tut'

The Obama administration should make clear that anti-Israel activists are to blame.

By Slade Gorton | June 1, 2010; 03:17 PM ET | Comments (29)

Strategic failure

Israeli leaders make it hard to be Israel's friend nowadays.

By Ken Adelman | June 1, 2010; 02:23 PM ET | Comments (4)

Abraham Lincoln: Never made of marble

'Now he belongs to the ages.' Those words, uttered after Abraham Lincoln died 145 years ago today, began the process of deifying our 16th president.

By Nancy Koehn | April 15, 2010; 01:17 PM ET | Comments (37)

'Set the azimuth' on al-Qaeda

Why aren't all elements of our national power applied to this problem of nuclear security? When will we appreciate that the solution involves much more than our great military?

By Gen. John Batiste (Ret.) | April 12, 2010; 03:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

The principal salesman

"The challenge of leadership is to understand what one can do and to focus one's attention on fulfilling that role."

By Mickey Edwards | March 19, 2010; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Leading without 'right answers'

Unfortunately, the United States has developed a reputation for imposing its will on other nations.

By Scott DeRue | March 17, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (1)

A long-term competitor

Our ability to use toughness when necessary comes at a price: We must be consistent and patient, often a weakness in U.S. policy.

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | March 17, 2010; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Right to reprimand

The message should be that we will always stand by our allies, but we will let them know when their behavior falls short of what we expect.

By Yash Gupta | March 16, 2010; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (25)

Our debt to China

Swaggering after years of economic growth and its continued emergence as a world power, China may continue to be stubborn for years to come.

By Columbia University students | March 16, 2010; 06:38 AM ET | Comments (5)

Dump the carrot, drop the stick

There is no uniform salve for the United State's increasingly difficult international relations; the carrot and the stick are far too simple for these issues.

By Coro Fellows | March 16, 2010; 06:28 AM ET | Comments (4)

Patient leadership

If Obama's toughness appears autocratic, and if his patience suggests indecisiveness, his leadership will falter both at home and abroad.

By Michael Useem | March 16, 2010; 05:40 AM ET | Comments (3)

No room for knee-jerks

Though I don't often find myself quoting Henry Kissinger favorably, I think his long-held position on "grand" strategy is on the mark in this case.

By Howard Gardner | March 16, 2010; 05:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Has he been too rigid?

President Obama doesn't have the authority to tell other sovereign countries what they should -- or should not -- believe.

By Marshall Goldsmith | March 16, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Friends versus rivals

We should not treat friends and rivals in the same fashion.

By Slade Gorton | March 16, 2010; 05:26 AM ET | Comments (11)

Is President Obama a 'transformational leader?'

President Obama has sometimes demonstrated transformational abilities, but going forward he must deploy them more strategically and personally.

By Thomas S. Bateman | March 8, 2010; 05:49 AM ET | Comments (31)

Give them iPads!

"To my fellow Democrats: You've squandered a lot of opportunity this year making yourselves caricatures of the broken system. To my Republican opposition: Don't be smug.

By Paul Schmitz | January 27, 2010; 04:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

The SOTU first draft

"The work is hard but history tells us we have only one choice: to push through the changes we need. (Mention previous eight years, skillfully point out that none of the current problems are actually my fault)."

By Coro Fellows | January 27, 2010; 12:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Populist bigotry'

"I should have recognized earlier the desperate and futile barriers my opponents have built. My 'restless dream' has turned into a nightmare for the American people."

By Warren Bennis | January 27, 2010; 06:09 AM ET | Comments (1)

'Jobs, jobs and more jobs'

President Obama has to get back to what he did so well on the campaign trail: demonstrating in plain language that he understands people's difficulties.

By Yash Gupta | January 26, 2010; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

'You still believe'

"The avalanche of problems now facing us has not buried my belief in change. Deep down, you still believe in change too."

By Katherine Tyler Scott | January 26, 2010; 03:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

Busting the filibuster

Hope is the belief that what is desirable is possible.

By Juana Bordas | January 26, 2010; 03:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Price of liberty'

We cannot accept the bureaucratic bungling that almost allowed a terrorist to blow up a plane at Christmas. We must and will be more vigilant.

By Michael Maccoby | January 26, 2010; 02:56 PM ET | Comments (0)

An emotional face

Dear Mr. President: Stop assuming people think logically and act rationally. Think instead about the emotions you want the American public to embody - and then display them yourself.

By Carol Kinsey Goman | January 26, 2010; 05:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

A seductive opportunity

The president needs to demonstrate a level of humility and awareness that this is "his shift," and things are very problematic in a number of areas.

By John H. Cochran, MD | January 26, 2010; 05:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Not a natural disaster

The fire that nearly melted down the greatest economy on earth was an act of arson, and wealth inoculates no one from American justice.

By Andy Stern | January 25, 2010; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (1)

The politics of small things

Government isn't about serving the little things. It's about dreaming the big things and reaching for them.

By Donald Kettl | January 25, 2010; 04:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Beyond partisan bickering

"The stakes are high. The time for action is now. Let's get to work."

By John Baldoni | January 25, 2010; 03:56 PM ET | Comments (1)

'Where I went wrong'

"This past year too much of our attention in Washington has been directed at institutions in crisis: banks, auto companies and health care. I did not pay enough attention to you."

By Howard Gardner | January 25, 2010; 03:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Presidential 360 review

Change fuels passion, not reasoned compromise, and President Obama needs to do a better job of getting the good news out.

By Paul Schmitz | January 25, 2010; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (0)

'In-progress review'

It is part of our Army culture to continually assess our performance on critical tasks and missions. The country must do the same with its president.

By Col. Charles D. Allen | January 21, 2010; 01:02 PM ET | Comments (1)

Beat the drum louder

The case for Obama's ambitious agenda is compelling but we did not hear it--clearly and repeatedly--as we might have from Reagan. It's time to get loud.

By Patricia McGinnis | January 21, 2010; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Take the congressional lead

If President Obama wants to turn failure into success, he must lead the Democrats in Congress, not follow them.

By Slade Gorton | January 21, 2010; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Cucumber man

President Obama stayed cool during the worst moments of the economic crisis, and we needed that, but now the moment calls for passion, even anger.

By Bill Shore | January 20, 2010; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

A poor communicator

Until he does a better job of communicating his message, Obama is going to have difficulty influencing the right people in Washington.

By Yash Gupta | January 20, 2010; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Underplaying his own passions

In his second year, President Obama should make more of his passions--the very qualities that contributed to securing his election to office.

By Alaina Love | January 20, 2010; 08:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Delivering us from anxiety

President Obama inherited many problems, but the most troubling is the fragile trust Americans have in their government and political leaders.

By Katherine Tyler Scott | January 20, 2010; 08:07 AM ET | Comments (5)

Limits of a silver tongue

Obama has failed to understand how to effectively deploy his oratorical talents as a president rather than as a campaigner.

By Mickey Edwards | January 19, 2010; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Dizzying fall from grace

The single biggest factor affecting the fate of our nation may well be how Barack Obama navigates his own internal landscape as a leader.

By Nancy Koehn | January 19, 2010; 01:59 PM ET | Comments (43)

In praise of steadiness

Commitment to keeping an even keel is what gives a neophyte leader gravitas, as Obama has done.

By Marie Wilson | January 19, 2010; 01:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

The president's fuzzy leadership

President Obama's leadership performance has been disappointing, as he has missed opportunities for "defining" moments.

By Ken Adelman | January 19, 2010; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (2)

Hard-to-please followers

If Obama's leadership does not succeed, it will be as much or more our fault than his.

By Michael Maccoby | January 19, 2010; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (7)

Overexposed, under-communicating

Obama has not effectively used his presidency to inform and convince the American people about his policy goals.

By Elizabeth Sherman | January 19, 2010; 06:02 AM ET | Comments (4)

His economic task

The right-wingers hate him for being a socialist, and the liberals are angry because he's not.

By Alan M. Webber | January 19, 2010; 05:54 AM ET | Comments (1)

A failure to communicate

It is ironic that Barack Obama has yet to truly find his voice, especially on important issues like health care and the economy.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | January 19, 2010; 05:46 AM ET | Comments (5)

Just playing it safe

Politically, Obama is treading lightly. He has not aggressively pushed his agenda and instead makes decisions to keep people happy.

By Coro Fellows | January 19, 2010; 01:40 AM ET | Comments (2)

From FDR's Pearl Harbor to Obama's West Point

Was President Obama's speech at West Point a "stage-managed" affair? Of course it was. Like FDR riding in an open car to declare war on Japan, theatrics have played a key role presidential and wartime leadership.

By Ed Ruggero | December 4, 2009; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (15)

Loaded with substance

Symbolic choices are certainly not "devoid of substance." Had President Bush shown up at Katrina the day it hit rather than "a few days later," would his sudden drop in approval ratings -- perhaps a turning point in his presidency -- have occurred?

By Warren Bennis | November 30, 2009; 06:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Optimus Prime way

When I was a kid, the Transformer Optimus Prime inspired and moved me. Leadership is the power to inspire others through symbols.

By Coro Fellows | November 24, 2009; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sealing grand alliances

A White House state dinner conveys enormous symbolism and skilled presidents like FDR have used them to seal important alliances.

By Yash Gupta | November 24, 2009; 11:26 AM ET | Comments (5)

Breaking bread at Jeanne's Cafe

Leadership is all about relationships, so even if we can't all host or attend state dinners, we should create our own.

By Ed O'Malley | November 24, 2009; 05:09 AM ET | Comments (1)

Political greasing

The president should fill sought-after state-dinner seats with folks who aren't on his payroll - above all, members of Congress, governors, pundits and journalists, and lots and lots of big-time campaign financiers.

By Ken Adelman | November 23, 2009; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (11)

A real opportunity

The state dinner is a real opportunity for the president to strengthen a vitally important relationship with India.

By Slade Gorton | November 23, 2009; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

Public gestures, private committments?

Certainly the symbolic gestures of leadership are important, but if a leader's public signals and private actions conflict -- game over.

By Beth A. Brooke | November 23, 2009; 03:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Time for substance

If anything, the Obama presidency has been so focused on symbolic conduct that sometimes symbols have become, or seemed to become, a substitute for policy.

By Howard Gardner | November 23, 2009; 02:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Real work in private

State dinners can help to bring people together but they tend to be more social occasions and are more about show than substance.

By David Walker | November 23, 2009; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Lincoln's audacious address

Lincoln's boldly reordered our nation's priorities with his Gettysburg Address , a move that riled even loyal supporters.

By Ed Ruggero | November 23, 2009; 05:46 AM ET | Comments (71)

Defining the Moment

A key element of leadership is defining a moment and bringing people to it, when even the most expert observer may not see that opportunity -- that's exactly what President Obama's speech did.

By John H. Cochran, MD | September 10, 2009; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Conservative Rut

The President must choose someone with the leadership ability, intellectual heft, and personal confidence to pull the court out of its conservative rut

By Elizabeth Sherman | May 19, 2009; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (3)

A Listening Heart

President Obama should not ignore the leadership qualities of his nominee, as other presidents have done. An influential Justice is one who can not only apply strong logical analysis but who can also make compelling arguments from the heart.

By Michael Maccoby | May 19, 2009; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Legal Leadership

The best jurists are able to consider different points of view as opposed to working from an agenda.

By Yash Gupta | May 19, 2009; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Consensus-Builder

President Obama sees himself as a healer, not a divider, and will nominate someone whose most important qualification beyond competence is having demonstrated the courage and skill to perform a consensus-building role.

By Marty Linsky | May 19, 2009; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Junior Justice

It is hard to imagine a junior justice with no Supreme Court experience influencing, in the near term, the experienced jurists. This means the person should be chosen for the power of her mind, rather than her political skills.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | May 19, 2009; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Be Too Cautious

This is the appointment of yours that is likely to have the longest term impact, so please be sure to select someone who is young, healthy, of steady and sound temperament.

By Howard Gardner | May 18, 2009; 03:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

National Consequences

In the Michigan affirmative action case, Justices Kennedy or O'Connor showed flexibility, taking into account the national consequences of the decision. A new Supreme Court justice should be able to straddle principles and consequences.

By Warren Bennis | May 18, 2009; 03:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Law First, Leadership Second

Leadership in a legislative or executive position is one thing; leadership on a court of law, with its more narrowly defined mission, is something quite different.

By Mickey Edwards | May 18, 2009; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Liberal-Minded Convincer

Whoever is appointed will not be able to shift the views of the four hardcore conservatives.

By Pablo Eisenberg | May 18, 2009; 12:56 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Sensible Center

The duty of a judge is to make decisions based by applying the facts to the law and in a manner consistent with the Constitution.

By David Walker | May 18, 2009; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Michelle's Leadership

The authenticity and integrity of our president -- and his wife -- came through in a way that inspired citizens around the world, including those of us cheering at home.

By Frances Hesselbein | April 10, 2009; 09:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Big Sticks and Know-It-All Relatives

People, or countries, on power trips are tiring to listen to, and big sticks only work if you don't hit yourself on the back swing. Obama's best "saber" right now is his smile.

By USC Students | April 9, 2009; 09:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Three Tasks for CEO Obama

Let's assume you're the new head of a company, and the previous boss told the union (or the European Union) their help was not needed. What should you do? You have three jobs to get done.

By Alan M. Webber | April 9, 2009; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Words that Resonate

The first leadership challenge that President Obama faces in the world right now is not terrorism. It's the challenge of restoring trust in the United States, and trust is at the heart of all successful relationships.

By Jim Kouzes | April 8, 2009; 02:06 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Big "Ask"

Leadership often requires careful cultivation. President Obama did well on his initial cultivation trip abroad. Let's see what happens when he returns for the big "ask."

By Kurt Schmoke | April 8, 2009; 07:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Leader Among Leaders

Facing staggering deficits and loss of wealth and jobs, America can no longer afford the luxury of toughness. Obama knows that America must telegraph a new message of respect, collaboration and mutuality.

By Elizabeth Sherman | April 7, 2009; 04:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

Global Town Hall

President Obama reached out beyond the official meetings with world leaders to build trust and good will among the people. This global engagement of the public will go a long way to building the reservoir of credibility and trust we will need.

By Patricia McGinnis | April 7, 2009; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Strategic Mind at Work

He painted a vision of partnership to control and eventually abolish nuclear weapons. What he showed in Europe was a strategic mind at work, plowing the ground to grow a stronger, healthier future.

By Michael Maccoby | April 7, 2009; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (1)

The End of an (Abysmal) Era

With a wounded and staggering economy, a military structure running on empty after years of conflict in Southwest Asia, and Russia and China openly reaching for ascendancy, we cannot afford a capricious demonstration of toughness.

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | April 7, 2009; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

Neither Hard Nor Soft, Just Plain Smart

What a relief to hear a reasonable president discuss unreasonable problems -- like North Korea's aborted missile launch -- with composure, tact, and strength.

By Warren Bennis | April 7, 2009; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Language, Not Raw Power

I believe that one can manifest power in ways other than showing one's saber.

By Gail S. Williams | April 7, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Keeping Bush in the Toolkit

Being devoutly un-Bush means giving up valuable options that might come in handy under certain circumstances. He has already adopted the last Bush Iraq strategy in Afghanistan, although the While House has reportedly banned the use of the word "surge."

By Marty Linsky | April 7, 2009; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Rebuilding the American Image

President Obama is making it possible to have better, saner relations, and for that the whole world owes him a very big thank you.

By Howard Gardner | April 6, 2009; 06:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

No One Likes a Bully

Smiles are a good start, but nothing beats gaining trust and respect when it comes to developing a productive working relationship, which is what Obama accomplished on this trip.

By Joanne B. Ciulla | April 6, 2009; 06:44 PM ET | Comments (6)

Paper Tiger Obama?

Obama's reaction to the North Korean missile test will indicate his direction of foreign policy, and whether or not he is regarded as a paper tiger.

By Slade Gorton | April 6, 2009; 06:36 PM ET | Comments (4)

Obama, Keeping it Real

Obama doesn't often pose or grab opportunities to project an image other than who he really is.

By Bill Shore | April 6, 2009; 06:15 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Power of Goodwill

Our security, economy, and influence in the world depend on good relations with allies. This is Obama's chance to re-establish the notion that the U.S. president is still the leader of the free world.

By Yash Gupta | April 6, 2009; 02:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Confident and Non-apologetic

President Obama was right to convey a cooperative, multilateral approach, but he also needs to show his resolve in addressing issues of major concern to the United States, including the long-range missile launch by North Korea.

By David Walker | April 6, 2009; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Art of Image

He should distance himself from the very polarizing view of only "good friends vs. absolute enemies," but he needs to be crystal clear on the U.S.'s position and values and then be steely in his consistency in support of them.

By John H. Cochran, MD | April 6, 2009; 12:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

Moral Leadership Matters

We clearly have military superiority in a traditional sense, but as Iraq and Afghanistan prove, that is not enough. Moral standing and collaborative leadership do matter.

By Andy Stern | April 6, 2009; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Small, Refreshing Changes

Leaders of other countries are under no moral or legal obligation to do what we want. By gaining their commitment we will not get everything that we want - but we will get something!

By Marshall Goldsmith | April 6, 2009; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (1)

Not Just a Gladiator Fight

The danger in the AIG bonus fiasco is that it allows Americans to channel their anger against others, while not changing any of their own behaviors. Obama's leadership must keep the public thinking about its own role in fixing the crisis.

By Ronald Heifetz | March 25, 2009; 04:41 PM ET | Comments (0)

Buck the Tide

As infuriating as the AIG bailout may be, that's not what the president and the Congress should be focused on. Rather, they must find a way -- collectively -- to restore confidence in the financial system of the world's most powerful country.

By Paul R. Portney | March 24, 2009; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Show Me the Values

This is the time to educate, the time to shed some much needed light on a "show me the money" culture that has gotten us to this place.

By Jim Kouzes | March 24, 2009; 09:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wall Street Needs Its Own Leadership

Wall Street leaders do not need the president to tell them to condemn rather than reward failure. It's time to return to merit-based pay, the old-fashioned concept that you share in both the gain and the pain.

By Andy Stern | March 23, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cool the Anger, Negotiate with Congress

Leaders often must be educators, and President Obama needs to educate the public. Better decisions are made when they aren't based on the kind of overheated emotion we're seeing.

By Yash Gupta | March 23, 2009; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (1)

Taxi Driver Wisdom

On the way to Reagan Airport, the taxi driver had this to say about President Obama: "He should talk directly to those bankers and tell them to stop acting like pigs. And he shouldn't let Congress run the show."

By Michael Maccoby | March 22, 2009; 10:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

Telling the Truth Slowly

The president walks a fine line between leveling with the American people about mistakes made, like not restricting AIG bonuses in the first place, and building the support for unpopular but necessary action.

By Bill Shore | March 22, 2009; 10:41 PM ET | Comments (0)

Pitchfork Populism

Nothing less than the credibility of public regulation is at stake in the debate over the House bill taxing bonuses. President Obama (and the Senate) must reject the bill and irrational politics behind it in favor of sensible policy choices on fair compensation.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | March 22, 2009; 10:31 PM ET | Comments (2)

It's Not About "Moments"

Talking about "leadership moments" is another stupid example of the quarterly "short-termism" of Wall Street. We should think in terms of leadership months and years; this is going to be a long haul.

By Warren Bennis | March 22, 2009; 10:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Strategic Pandering

If President Obama did not pander to the crowd on this one, he would have begun to distance himself from huge numbers of people whose support he needs to get his budget, his subsequent recovery plans, and his ambitious domestic agenda enacted.

By Marty Linsky | March 22, 2009; 10:07 PM ET | Comments (5)

Political Courage Required

If Congress passes a retroactive, confiscatory tax on Wall Street bonuses, President Obama should veto it. This requires political courage, something that is a rare commodity in the U.S. Congress.

By Bill George | March 22, 2009; 09:48 PM ET | Comments (12)

Managing, Not Leading

Top-notch leaders are able to turn difficult messes into defining moments, as President Reagan did early in his presidency. President Obama could see the AIG uproar as a golden opportunity -- but so far he has just muddled through.

By Ken Adelman | March 22, 2009; 09:40 PM ET | Comments (0)

Walking the Minefield

Leadership is often about making mistakes -- and learning from them.

By Howard Gardner | March 22, 2009; 09:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Stop the Demogoguery

While President Obama has been almost as irresponsible as the loudest voices in Congress, it's not too late for him to show the leadership for which he was elected and become part of the solution rather than of the problem.

By Slade Gorton | March 22, 2009; 09:25 PM ET | Comments (1)

Wean Us from Incentive Myths

The AIG crisis offers a teachable moment for President Obama: He can explain why smart organizations don't rely solely on financial incentives to win, keep and motivate their employees.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | March 22, 2009; 08:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

Practical Solutions for Bonus Problems

The Obama administration and the Congress need to focus on the credit crunch as well as the nation's rapidly deteriorating financial condition, growing structural deficits and over reliance on foreign lenders.

By David Walker | March 22, 2009; 08:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reaching the Millennials

Obama's inaugural address called us all to pitch in, and his message resonated with the young, tech-savvy generation.

By Warren Bennis | January 22, 2009; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Optimism Paradox

For General Lee at Gettysburg, optimism turned out to be fatal. Every leader must balance the need for confidence with clear-eyed realism, and Obama tried to do that in his inauguration speech.

By Michael Useem | January 22, 2009; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Grindstone Time

What does Obama want from the American people and what does he promise them? The answer so far: Hard work.

By Joanne B. Ciulla | January 22, 2009; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Beyonce's Tears

The 27-year-old pop star said of President Obama, "He makes me want to be more involved." She got the inaugural message -- meant for all of us -- loud and clear.

By Ed Ruggero | January 21, 2009; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Time For Specifics

Beyond balancing hope and candor, leaders also need to balance being general enough to leave themselves latitude but also specific enough to have a mandate for making tough asks. Now's the time for specifics.

By Bill Shore | January 21, 2009; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (1)

Memo to Self

Now that inauguration is over, President Obama gets down to the work of being President. His most immediate thoughts, articulated by Alan Webber.

By Alan M. Webber | January 21, 2009; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

Rallying for Bipartisanship

While one speech cannot achieve the president's purpose, by aiming to gain bipartisan support, President Obama got off to an excellent start.

By Michael Maccoby | January 21, 2009; 12:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

Lessons From Churchill

Churchill's famous speech had tenacity and a pugnacious spirit that struck a deep chord in the people; likewise, Obama needs to be both hopeful and realistic.

By George Reed | January 21, 2009; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Survival Is Success

President Obama doesn't need to put men on the moon. Simply guiding us through the next decade while preventing the collapse our economic system would be success enough.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | January 21, 2009; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (1)

A Cautious Beginning

Obama's cautious inaugural address lacked FDR's insight about our nation's distress, Churchill's brutal honesty and JFK's request for help and sacrifice.

By Marty Linsky | January 21, 2009; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Educator of the Nation

A leader is an individual with a powerful story to communicate to a heterogeneous audience, and whose own life embodies that story.

By Howard Gardner | January 21, 2009; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Common Ground

A leader must draw other together, forging a shared vision that gives strength in the face of adversity.

By Denis A. Cortese | January 21, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Long-Term Vision

It is particularly challenging to make major changes in government, especially when the crisis you are trying to address is emerging and not immediate.

By David Walker | January 21, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Citizens Must Sacrifice, Too

People worry about what a leader is not saying, because it is not that they can't stand bad news-- they just can't stand uncertainty.

By Norm R. Augustine | January 21, 2009; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Measure of Success

Will President Obama succeed in establishing a vision, like FDR, and then leading the nation through these turbulent times?

By Col. Charles D. Allen | January 21, 2009; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

New Deal Lessons

President Obama must revive Keynesian ideas of economic revival -- and he must muster the courage to bring others along with him.

By Abraham Zaleznik | January 21, 2009; 10:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Realism Versus High Expectations

Although President Obama speaks to us realistically about our challenges, I worry his fans aren't hearing him -- while hoping he continues to speak candidly.

By Marshall Goldsmith | January 21, 2009; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Raw Ability

He has the first-rate intellect, strong emotional intelligence, confidence and good judgment to be a truly great president, one who will hopefully continue to grow after he takes office.

By John R. Ryan | January 15, 2009; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (10)

Calm, Cool and Collected

He handled himself with grace through the campaign, and so far, he's managed to keep it up.

By Warren Bennis | January 15, 2009; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Values That Really Matter

Not only does the President-elect understand the difference between politics and policy, he also appreciates focus and discipline.

By Andy Stern | January 14, 2009; 12:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Dedicated Student

What should worry us is if Obama should ever think that he has graduated from leadership school and believes that he has learned all he needs to know.

By Jim Kouzes | January 14, 2009; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Back on the Horse

Current expectations are so great that unless Obama proves to be a Lincolnesque leader, disappointment throughout the nation and the world will be inevitable.

By Norm R. Augustine | January 14, 2009; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Sigh of Relief

Obama's non-hip shooter leadership style may prove to be one of his greatest and most-welcomed assets.

By Abraham Zaleznik | January 14, 2009; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Social Sector Challenge

Unless we're to run a dire risk of hyperinflation, President Obama must motivate the social sector -- synagogues, churches, civic organizations, parents and social entrepreneurs -- to contribute massively to solving social issues.

By Bob Buford | January 13, 2009; 01:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Our Own Responsiblity

If the leadership qualities we saw in Obama's campaign can be systematically applied to governing, then we should not only cheer but pitch in and make some tough choices of our own.

By Patricia McGinnis | January 13, 2009; 12:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reality Therapy

The man does have weaknesses. The fact that he does a good job overcoming, disguising, and controlling them is one of the reasons he'll be putting his hand on the Bible on January 20th.

By Alan M. Webber | January 13, 2009; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (2)

Inspiring a Tough Audience: Teenagers

When trust in our public institutions and elected leaders is at an all-time low, Obama has been able to capture the energy and desire to serve among our nation's young people. If he can turn that enthusiasm into service for the public good, then he will truly be a transformational leader.

By Kathy Kretman | January 12, 2009; 02:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Not Afraid to Disappoint

In rebuffing the gas tax and tapping Rick Warren, Obama has demonstrated the courage and skill needed to disappoint his own supporters at a rate they can absorb.

By Marty Linsky | January 12, 2009; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

Failure Not An Option

President Obama will need to be every bit as good a leader as he appears to be and Republicans (like me) and Democrats alike had better give him all appropriate support.

By Norm R. Augustine | January 12, 2009; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Gifted Speaker

In his direct, sober, calm, deliberative, informed, uplifting, stirring and -- of course -- hopeful -- way, Obama displays naturally what many of us work painstakingly for: the gift of public speaking.

By Michael Useem | January 12, 2009; 01:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Principled Pragmatist

Obama's brilliant campaign and impressive transition process show he has the skills to guide the country through rough seas, but once greeted by "Hail to the Chief," will he keep his humility?

By Michael Maccoby | January 12, 2009; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Past Is Not Prologue

The politics of campaign season are far different from the politics of governing. Can Obama make tough policy choices and manage complex decision-making processes?

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | January 12, 2009; 12:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

First Out The Door

To paratroopers, leading means being "last in the chow line and first out the aircraft door." Whatever the success of his ideas, Obama has at least shown courage in facing our economic crisis.

By Ed Ruggero | January 12, 2009; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

After The Euphoria?

He's a great communicator, yes, but we don't yet know if he can effectively build teams or manage the complex systems of government.

By George Reed | January 12, 2009; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (6)

Open Ears, Open Mind

He strives to see the value of differing opinions, and, if he keeps it up, such a leadership style would be a welcome change from the past eight years.

By Marshall Goldsmith | January 12, 2009; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (1)

Tough Talk -- More Needed

He has talked to us candidly about our current challenges and the tough choices they require, but he has yet to drive home the point that, like the rest of us, the government cannot keep overspending.

By David Walker | January 12, 2009; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Did I See In Him?

When I interviewed him in 2000, he impressed me. Looking back, I see now I didn't ask the right questions.

By Alan M. Webber | January 7, 2009; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (4)

If Nothing Else, We've Been Safe

President Bush's overall greatest achievement was that America has not suffered another 9/11 tragedy.

By Norm R. Augustine | January 7, 2009; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (25)

Perversely Beneficial

It was Bush 43 who made possible the election of Barack Obama, and for that we should thank him.

By Warren Bennis | January 7, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (4)

Diversity Leadership

I credit President Bush with hastening the demise of the "stale, pale, male" image of leaders in America, particularly in appointing Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as Secretaries of State.

By Joanne B. Ciulla | January 6, 2009; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (3)

Successful Operating Style

Bush and his administration were devoted to their ideas, had a clear agenda, and used all avenues to accomplish them, but they were often more ideological than results driven.

By Andy Stern | January 6, 2009; 12:02 PM ET | Comments (3)

Decisions Without Reflection

Though sometimes mocked, Bush's description of himself as the chief "decider" captured a willingness to make tough decisions. Yet even the best decisions, when unreviewed, can become the worst mistakes.

By Michael Useem | January 6, 2009; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (2)

Reaganesque Fortitude?

Like President Reagan, Bush stuck to a course of action through adversity. On some key policy choices, however, he may have been absolutely wrong from the start.

By Roger Martin | January 6, 2009; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Treachery of Hubris

Leaders throughout history, including George W. Bush, have failed when they became bloated with an exaggerated sense of self, pursuing their own ends, seemingly oblivious to the voices of others or the situation around them.

By Barry Posner | January 6, 2009; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (8)

It Didn't Have to End This Way

He had the clarity of vision and buoyant optimism a great leader needs. Sadly, his greatest strengths betrayed him and became his glaring weaknesses.

By Jim Kouzes | January 6, 2009; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (6)

Unanswered Questions

He had many strengths as a leader -- an affable personality combined with a stubborn will -- but his actions in the long run may cost us all dearly.

By Michael Maccoby | January 6, 2009; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (3)

Optimism, Persistence and Loyalty

He had many failings, but he also demonstrated these three important leadership qualities.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | January 6, 2009; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (2)

Two Good Traits

Failures aside, Bush's patience in Iraq, as well as his flexibility in addressing the financial crisis, have both been hallmarks of good presidential leadership.

By Steven Pearlstein | January 6, 2009; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (2)

Stubborn -- Or Courageous?

Whatever you think of Bush's decisions, the president demonstrated clarity. What some call stubbornness may also be seen as courage.

By John H. Cochran, MD | January 6, 2009; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (5)

Underestimated Strengths

His best virtues were honesty, loyalty and respect for others, while his single-minded focus on the Middle East and on keeping America safe from further attack will only be fully appreciated in the future.

By Bob Schoultz | January 5, 2009; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (2)

So "Right," So Wrong

He did what he thought was right and stuck to that course of action -- to a fault.

By Marshall Goldsmith | January 5, 2009; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (3)

Spectacular Success and Failure

He got some things right -- the initial Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, his own reelection, and the Iraq surge -- but others disastrously wrong.

By Slade Gorton | January 5, 2009; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

Outstanding Leadership on HIV/AIDS

From the point of view of an African child born free of HIV, George W. Bush is a great leader.

By Kurt Schmoke | January 5, 2009; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (2)

Strong Start That Fizzled

George W. Bush enacted his tax cut with bipartisan support, set a clear management agenda and sent the right signals after 9/11 -- then his leadership went downhill.

By David Walker | January 5, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Failure, With a Few Good Points

Faint praise aside, Bush must take the blame and be recorded as a failed leader.

By Howard Gardner | January 5, 2009; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (5)

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