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Archive: Crisis leadership

Ending the stalemate in Wisconsin

Is it better leadership for Walker, the Democratic senators and the union leaders--each in their own separate ways--to hold fast to their principles or find a third way that will bring a stalemate to the end? What is a more effective leadership skill: Steadfast adherence to one's beliefs or the ability to negotiate well?

By Jena McGregor | February 22, 2011; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (16)

The weight of Panetta's words

Panetta was right about one thing in his committee testimony. Even the best intelligence can't get you inside another leader's mind. "Our biggest problem is always: How do we get into the head of somebody?" he told members of Congress. Likewise, we won't know what it was in Panetta's head--excitement that a change could be coming, cold hard intelligence that turned out to be wrong or mere reiteration of media reports, as his aides say--that prompted him to make a statement that instantly set up expectations around the world.

By Jena McGregor | February 11, 2011; 10:10 AM ET | Comments (35)

The risks of drawing out Egypt's leadership transition

In a place as volatile as Egypt, such a drawn-out transition has the potential to be much, much worse. The much-needed reforms Mubarak has promised would have little weight. The expectation of seismic changes in the country's government could bring current operations to a standstill, inviting even more chaos.

By Jena McGregor | February 2, 2011; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Egypt: Obama's communication highwire

The uprising presents his administration with a bewildering dilemma between American ideals and American interests, and most presidents who've come before him have ultimately chosen the latter, with differing fates.

By Jena McGregor | January 30, 2011; 04:18 PM ET | Comments (35)

FCIC report: What if the SEC paid like Goldman Sachs?

If regulators were incented to stop fraud and prevent future financial apocalypses on the same scale that traders were rewarded for selling worthless derivatives, we'd surely be in a very different place today. The best talent coming out of our best universities might not immediately be shipping off to Wall Street, but to Washington instead.

By Jena McGregor | January 28, 2011; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (28)

If business should invest during tough times, why not government?

The concept of investing for the future during tough times is one of the most fundamental ideas in business--or leadership, for that matter. Just as CEOs who cut off spending in R&D and employee training during a recession will find themselves slipping against competitors when things turn up again, a country that doesn't invest in education, innovation and infrastructure is likely to quickly fall behind its peers.

By Jena McGregor | January 27, 2011; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (10)

The real question to ask GE's Immelt about chairing the jobs council

How on earth will he have the time? This is a man who already runs one of the largest corporations on the planet, with some 300,000 employees and operations in more than 160 countries. Not only is he CEO of GE, but he is chairman of its board of directors too. Immelt is also on the board of The New York Federal Reserve Bank.

By Jena McGregor | January 24, 2011; 09:54 AM ET | Comments (8)

Obama and Palin: Two responses at a time of crisis

Wednesday's coda to the initial aftermath of Saturday's shooting in Tucson offered up two distinct portraits of two very different leaders.

By Jena McGregor | January 13, 2011; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (237)

Haiti's Iron Market: A symbolic rebirth

Symbolism plays a huge role in leadership, and O'Brien's investment in the Iron Market's reopening within a year of the tragedy is an example of its power. Symbolic gestures motivate people in any situation, but especially in a place where the scale of human misery is as tremendous as it is in Port-au-Prince. And in Haiti, where so little hope is left, it may be one of the only remaining things that works.

By Jena McGregor | January 12, 2011; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

Sheriff Dupnik, first on rhetoric now on gun control: Speaking his mind or overstepping his bounds?

All of that raises an interesting leadership question. By editorializing on the Tucson tragedy, is Dupnik boldly pushing the national conversation forward and speaking out about what he believes in, as good leaders should? Or is he overstepping his bounds, inserting his own personal ideals at a time when he should be objective?

By Jena McGregor | January 11, 2011; 09:31 AM ET | Comments (98)

Arizona shootings: Must it take tragedy to wake up Washington?

But the fact that six people had to die before officials got serious about toning down the vitriol makes a mockery of this thing we call leadership. Real leaders would have stepped forward before this tragedy occurred, making it a priority to calm the discourse before things got out of hand. The ultimate irony, of course, is that Gabrielle Giffords was just that kind of leader.

By Jena McGregor | January 10, 2011; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (29)

Wall Street bonuses may drop, but not expectations

The issues surrounding Wall Street compensation will never be resolved by new rules or new laws about how big bonuses can be or in what way people can be paid. The people who work there are smart, and they will find a way around them. The only way any change will happen is for firm leaders--who currently have little incentive to change things themselves--to upend company culture through making tough, bold decisions that overturn years of ingrained expectations.

By Jena McGregor | December 20, 2010; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (6)

Obama's CEO meeting: 'Uncertainty' an excuse for hoarding profits?

CEOs are increasingly saying that it is uncertainty over the economy and regulations that is prompting them not to spend, or invest toward hiring, the nearly $2 trillion in cash on their books--the highest amount in half a century.

By Jena McGregor | December 15, 2010; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (11)

Boehner's 'cry' for common ground

Boehner may be right that people don't like to give anything up when negotiating a solution--that's why we look to leaders, after all, to hold firm on our most important principles and values, even if it means giving up something of lesser significance. To reject outright the notion of compromise may make the incoming speaker sound like a tough fighter. But if he's left with little common ground, he won't be successful as a leader, either.

By Jena McGregor | December 13, 2010; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (24)

Last-minute Congressional logjam: Few pros, plenty of cons

Whatever the outcome of the bill, and it's not likely to be pretty with that mishmash of agendas, the even more troubling downside is what it says about how our leaders view rules and deadlines in the face of political gain. Putting off tough decisions may help you look better in the short term, but it's hardly leadership. Making the details and intricacies of a trillion dollar budget a top priority that doesn't get pushed to the last-minute, however, is.

By Jena McGregor | December 8, 2010; 01:16 PM ET | Comments (23)

The tax cut deal: Procrastination, not leadership

Both Democrats and Republicans can say there wasn't time for such deliberations with a deadline looming, but both have also known this was coming for years. Then again, carefully planning for the future, as well as tackling the toughest problems first so your successors aren't left with them, takes leadership. And that's been in woefully short supply during the tax cut debate.

By Jena McGregor | December 7, 2010; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (40)

Extending the Bush tax cuts: Human nature?

What does this have to do with the news that the tax cuts are likely to get a temporary extension? Plenty. Those who favor ending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy seem most worried about what this does to the deficit during the temporary extension, or about what this does to Obama's political fortunes--it was a campaign promise, after all, and many on the Left see such "negotiations" as preliminary caving to Republicans.

By Jena McGregor | December 3, 2010; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (100)

The GOP's lame-duck blockade

Of course, this is the Senate we're talking about here, where politics has become so corroding and divisive that the chamber has nearly lost its capacity to govern. Perhaps the mere expectation from our leaders of multitasking is too much to ask. Yes, Congress needs to set priorities and focus on coming to a compromise on the tax cuts. But to formalize that into a pledge that opposes any legislation the other party proposes is neglecting the rest of their duties and adding even more political kindling to an already explosive situation.

By Jena McGregor | December 1, 2010; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (225)

What businesses should know about WikiLeaks

Complete openness and transparency is not only impossible but undesirable in any large institution. Controlling who has access to information that matters--without limiting access to information that would be helpful to employees--is a tension every leader should be wrestling with today.

By Jena McGregor | November 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (5)

Bush and Zuckerberg: Leadership soul mates?

George W. Bush and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may not seem like they have a lot in common. One is a mid-60s former leader of the free world who famously called the Web "the Internets"; the other is a hoodie-wearing, twenty-something entrepreneur who runs one of the world's fastest growing technology companies.

By Jena McGregor | November 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

The federal pay freeze: Will a brain drain follow?

Facing a ballooning deficit and a historic recession, Obama is doing the right thing by freezing the pay of federal workers for the next two years. But those who want sharply deeper cuts should make sure they know the unintended consequences that could surface. When the economy does turn around, and someday it will, more austere cuts to federal pay and benefits could prompt a brain drain of the best and brightest, no longer willing to pass up better pay to be physicians caring for wounded soldiers, scientists deciding which important research gets funded, or computer engineers monitoring cyber-terrorists.

By Jena McGregor | November 29, 2010; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (135)

Corporate profits hit highest record, so why aren't business leaders creating jobs?

This is not an economics blog, so I won't delve into the financial and policy details of whether it's government's or business's job to, well, create jobs. (It's both, of course.) But it is a leadership blog, and what's quickly becoming a fair question is whether CEOs are showing much of it at all when it comes to taking risks that lead to job creation.

By Jena McGregor | November 24, 2010; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

TSA debacle: How media controversies keep tripping up Obama

Sensing what will anger people or ignite into a full-blown crisis--and what's a mere triviality that will be made worse by giving it attention--has tripped up Obama multiple times, as brouhahas over debates like the so-called "death panels" or the Guantanamo prisoners' trials have erupted before he could get in front of them.

By Jena McGregor | November 23, 2010; 12:21 AM ET | Comments (1)

TSA chief shifts his stance after media pat-down

It's hard to understand exactly what Pistole was thinking. The furor over the new pat-downs has been growing for days, and he needed to have a strategy for dealing sympathetically with the inevitable questions about what the TSA was doing in response to travelers' complaints. He tried, of course, but instead seemed intent on repeating talking points over and over again (such as how few people actually receive the new "enhanced" pat-downs). While he admitted the new policies were "invasive" and "uncomfortable," there was almost no explanation whatsoever for how the TSA was going to take into account fliers' fury.

By Jena McGregor | November 22, 2010; 09:24 AM ET | Comments (21)

Obama's 'leadership vs. management' problem

The president, in effect, is confronting an all too classic problem. Obama's "legislation vs. leadership" quandary is not all that different from the "management vs. leadership" dilemma many people in power face. Many leaders aren't very good managers, while many managers don't really know how to lead. To find both qualities in one person--the ability to execute and the capacity to inspire--is exceedingly rare.

By Jena McGregor | November 9, 2010; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (4)

Obama's post-election tightrope walk

Obama is walking a high-wire tightrope. On the one hand, he needs to be willing to compromise, course correct and even renegotiate some of what he's already achieved. But on the other, he has to continue to stand by what he believes, and not bow so much to pressure that he ends up abandoning his ideals. After all, Obama did campaign on many, though not all, of the policies he worked on during his first two years in office.

By Jena McGregor | November 4, 2010; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Does 'the first 100 days' concept really matter anymore?

In today's 24/7 news cycle, and with the country facing economic problems that require expedient and immediate change, a three-month grace period sounds about as archaic as FDR's fireside chats. If new elected leaders want to make an impact, they're going to have to act fast. And they're not going to get much forgiveness from a cable industry hungry for the first slip up or political gaffe.

By Jena McGregor | November 3, 2010; 09:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to lead like Jon Stewart (and why you'd want to)

Unlike so many today, both inside and outside politics, he offered perspective on the bigger picture, made people feel better about themselves and encouraged compromise in a world that seems to have forgotten how to do it.

By Jena McGregor | November 1, 2010; 08:24 AM ET | Comments (22)

Why BP's new bonus plan won't work

n an email, Dudley told employees that fourth-quarter bonuses would be based solely on the company's safety record, including "reducing operational risks" and "excellent safety and compliance standards." While existing bonus performance metrics would be honored for the first nine months of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports, safety will be the only measure for the fourth quarter. The problem? It won't work.

By Jena McGregor | October 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

Goldman's new outsider

The most interesting move may be Goldman's hiring of Bess Joffe to be its new vice president of investor relations. Joffe, an attorney who worked for Hermes Equity Ownership Services until she was hired by Goldman recently, has been an advocate for better boards and improved pay and leadership practices, and her hiring was cheered by governance gurus like Charles Elson...

By Jena McGregor | October 18, 2010; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (2)

Luis Urzua: Chile's underground leader

That's as good a time as any to reflect upon the extraordinary leadership that's been on display amid this harrowing crisis.

By Jena McGregor | October 12, 2010; 01:25 PM ET | Comments (5)

The accidental managers

For those who've managed to keep a job through the crisis, the economic woes have meant a veritable pile-on of extra work, responsibilities and stress. Some see that as an opportunity. But plenty of others are quietly reeling from their vast new burdens and silently seething over their heavier loads.

By Jena McGregor | September 21, 2010; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (4)

Falling victim to the 'tyranny of the moment'

The media's obsession with these 24-hour mini-dramas creates the ultimate Catch 22 for leaders. Ignore it, and you'll be blamed for being tone deaf, or worse, afraid of staking out your opinion on the matter. But acknowledge it, and you only fan the flames, creating an even bigger distraction.

By Jena McGregor | September 10, 2010; 12:13 AM ET | Comments (56)

Can Anyone Really Run This Place?

No matter how much we like to turn our presidents and global CEOs into celebrities, no matter how much we prefer to reward heros and identify victims when large systems succeed or fail, and of course, no matter how powerful and transformative a good leader can be, there is a limit to what one person can do. But the answer is...

By Jena McGregor | September 2, 2010; 11:04 PM ET | Comments (65)

Shirley Sherrod: Racism and the rush to judgment

We pay our leaders to think clearly and act quicklySh, but not so quickly that fairness goes out the window. In the Sherrod affair, Vilsack--and the NAACP--should have held their fire until they knew all the facts.

By Jena McGregor | July 21, 2010; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (19)

 
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