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Archive: Presidential leadership

Gingrich: Will he or won't he?

Gingrich has one thing figured out. The will-he-or-won't-he, committee-or-no-committee, announcement-or-no-announcement back and forth is at the very least keeping him in the news.

By Jena McGregor | March 3, 2011; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (38)

Thune: What good is a Senate record?

Whether we agree or not with a senator's extended decision-making record, at least he or she has one we can turn to to decide what they might do in the future. We may disagree with some of our potential presidents' past decisions, but at some point, I'd hope a track record of effective legislation creation and wise decision-making might outweigh those differences.

By Jena McGregor | February 23, 2011; 09:34 AM ET | Comments (9)

Palin's milk joke goes sour

Who knows whether or not Palin will run for the nation's highest office. But if she does, comments like this one do little to make her sound presidential. For one, even if it was a joke, Palin was making light of something that has to do with the future of this country--the health and well-being of its children. And even if Palin spent most of the talk discussing deficits, health-care reform and foreign affairs, it's unnecessary side comments like these that will--whether she likes it or not--lead the news.

By Jena McGregor | February 18, 2011; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (1653)

Think you can balance the budget?

By putting constituents in her shoes, Purdue is helping them to see that on the heels of a massive recession that has pushed state governments to the breaking point, there are no easy choices. Helping people realize how difficult it is to decide whether to cut spending in education, public safety or social services could help elicit a more cooperative and civil discussion about what to do.

By Jena McGregor | February 17, 2011; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (30)

Boehner's 'so be it' leadership

The president may not be winning any leadership medals for his budget dealings, but the opposition's leader isn't either.

By Jena McGregor | February 16, 2011; 01:08 PM ET | Comments (138)

Why form a debt commission? Obama's budget skirts asked-for advice

One has to wonder why the president would establish a panel of experts and seek their recommendations if their biggest proposals are to be ignored. At the very least, the president could offer a more complete explanation about why some of the commission's major proposals were not endorsed. Even better would have been to offer alternative ways to address some of the big spending areas--Social Security and Medicare, for instance--with equally big results.

By Jena McGregor | February 14, 2011; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (16)

CPAC: Plenty of likely candidates, but what about real leaders?

Granted, being first out of the gate may mean a candidate is a little more vulnerable. It may mean the message isn't fully focus grouped and straw polled. And it may mean the talking points still need some fine-tuning by party operatives. Call me naive, but if they're declaring their candidacy early because they truly believe they have something to contribute, it also means they're a leader, in every sense of the word.

By Jena McGregor | February 10, 2011; 09:23 AM ET | Comments (11)

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)

How Huntsman's affiliation with Obama could help him

If Huntsman does actually run, he will have formidable foes in the primary better able to rally the party's more conservative and rural voters. But in an age when civility seems ascendant, and when many voters jaded by the heated rhetoric in Washington are looking for someone who can work across the aisle, Huntsman's Achilles heel--a forced position of gratitude to the president--could also end up being his secret weapon.

By Jena McGregor | February 1, 2011; 05:36 AM ET | Comments (18)

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)

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)

SOTU: Not much fire, but plenty of potential for sparks

Driving right down the center with topics no one could oppose may make for good politics, but not electrifying oratory.

By Jena McGregor | January 26, 2011; 09:48 AM ET | Comments (7)

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)

The 'dish' Boehner will miss

A leader at Boehner's level should actually want to take every opportunity to present a unified front to other countries--no matter how much we may disagree with some of their practices and policies--and to improve relations with someone who leads a country fast becoming this nation's largest global rival. Yes, Boehner is meeting with President Jintao later this week. But a social setting like Wednesday night's event offers unique opportunities for leaders to find commonalities, get to know each other as people and engage in additional dialogue. And the only way to grab them is to be there.

By Jena McGregor | January 19, 2011; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (211)

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)

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)

How Daley will help Obama

Daley's ties to business, his centrist politics and, perhaps most important, his age and gravitas, should go a long way to helping Obama answer critics about his weaknesses. That is, as long as he keeps letting Daley disagree with him.

By Jena McGregor | January 6, 2011; 04:33 PM ET | Comments (10)

Obama's reshuffle: More outsiders, please

Companies with major strategic problems tend to bolster their executive ranks with outside expertise, whether as employees or consultants. Coaches coming off of losing seasons are expected to bring in new assistants who can overhaul problem areas. For Obama, too, a bigger mix of inside and outside candidates in his major reshuffle could go a long way toward balancing frank assessments and bold new ideas with institutional knowledge and trust.

By Jena McGregor | January 5, 2011; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (11)

When pulling a Clinton 'triangulation,' where Obama should diverge

Call it whatever you want, but Obama is pulling a Clinton-esque move, doing his best to court voters in the middle. Still, by making the tax cut deal the first step toward that approach, he differs in one important way.

By Jena McGregor | December 17, 2010; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (21)

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)

President Obama: The next Clinton, Carter or Truman?

Obama may be pulling a Clinton, and trying to woo independent voters after tough midterm elections. But in 1994, the United States was on the cusp of an extraordinary boom in the economy, and any of Clinton's achievements, no matter how skilled a leader and politician he may have been, must be viewed against that backdrop.

By Jena McGregor | December 10, 2010; 09:25 AM ET | Comments (2)

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)

Obama's trouble: Setting expectations?

But once a leader gets elected, the calculus changes. Rather than driving expectations up, leaders have to send them down, and then beat them. Finding the right balance between setting goals to be held accountable for and not promising too much may just be the most formidable leadership challenge leaders face--and one that's proving especially difficult for Obama.

By Jena McGregor | November 15, 2010; 08:07 AM ET | Comments (8)

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)

Obama's "enemies" comment: Holding the president to a higher bar

Of course, actually "unifying" anyone--or anything--in Washington is extremely difficult, if not impossible, these days. And Obama may have tried to flex this mediation muscle against a Republican party that was obstinate in opposing him at every turn. But despite that frustration, Obama's calling his opponents enemies did nothing to help the situation. Even if it may seem a double standard at times...

By Jena McGregor | November 2, 2010; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (204)

Weekend Reads: The gurus grade Obama

Would President Barack Obama pass a leadership class at a top business school? Yes, but he wouldn't get an A.

By Jena McGregor | October 29, 2010; 11:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Is Sarah Palin good for women in government?

the Democrats get the bloodbath that's expected, women could lose seats in national office for the first time in 30 years, reports the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Which leads to the question: Is Sarah Palin good for women in government?

By Jena McGregor | October 29, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (148)

Bad move for Obama to go on Daily Show?

And while it's two years before the next presidential election, Obama seemed to be campaigning for himself rather than the members of Congress who'll be elected next week. Despite some kind words for a few members of his party, Obama felt more candidate than leader, the savviest of which would have used humor to turn the conversation around and try to deflate the kind of anger and furor the country is gripped with these days.

By Jena McGregor | October 28, 2010; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (35)

Caprio: The final death knell of political civility?

The apex of this biennial bout of incivility was reached Monday--though with six more days until the election, it may yet be topped--when Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio said President Obama could take his endorsement and "shove it." Or actually, his lack of one. Caprio, the White House maintains, asked for an endorsement, but Obama chose not to give one to any of the candidates, out of respect to Caprio's independent opponent Lincoln Chafee, who has supported Obama in the past.

By Jena McGregor | October 27, 2010; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (18)

Obama's team of rivals: An asset turned liability?

When President Obama named Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state soon after winning the election, Washington pundits and press cheered the incoming president for his willingness to put together a "team of rivals." Doris Kearns Goodwin, the author...

By Jena McGregor | September 23, 2010; 12:37 AM ET | Comments (3)

Why a CEO shouldn't run the NEC

The temptation to send a signal when filling such an important leadership role is a risky one. One sees it all the time: rather than simply picking the best person for a job, leaders make political decisions on who will ruffle the fewest feathers or send the right message to their employees, their investors or their constituents.

By Jena McGregor | September 22, 2010; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (2)

Keep it simple, Obama

Obama's message problem is about more than just deciding when he does and doesn't need to pick up the mallet. The themes he crafts for his own speeches and campaign stops need to be simplified and winnowed down. I can't count the number of leaders and leadership experts I've spoken to over the years who say three is the magic number of separate goals or ideas people can easily focus on at the same time. Then, repeat them. Over and over and over again. And then again.

By Jena McGregor | September 17, 2010; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (41)

Warren's appointment: The pitfalls of compromise

And so, Obama landed on a compromise--something leaders have to do every day. Except that in Obama's world (where voter dissatisfaction, a radically polarized political spectrum and a news media hungry to turn everything into a controversy), compromises don't have the usual effect.

By Jena McGregor | September 16, 2010; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

The great paradox of the great recession

According to President Obama's new chief economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, the jobless rate in the United States is likely to remain high for a long time. But there's one place where there are plenty of jobs open to fill, and that's the President's economic policy and financial regulatory team.

By Jena McGregor | September 13, 2010; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (8)

A brain trust for President Obama?

What was idle chatter earlier this week about a shakeup in Obama's ranks has risen to shouting levels now that the mayor's job in Chicago is up for grabs and the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, could run for it.

By Jena McGregor | September 9, 2010; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (13)

 
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