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Archive: Public leadership

Should NPR's Vivian Schiller have been asked to resign?

Removing her likely won't solve many of NPR's problems--the organization is now without a permanent CEO, a news director and a chief fundraiser. And it's unclear that it will be enough of an olive branch to those wanting to end public financing.

By Jena McGregor | March 9, 2011; 04:23 PM ET | Comments (100)

What is it about Chris Christie? The benefits of creating a common foe

Christie would likely say that he is only speaking the hard truths about the future of his state and what must be done to get costs under control. But a big reason why his message works so well is that he's found another adversary for voters fretting over their finances. And all the swagger and simple speech in the world isn't quite as powerful as a common foe.

By Jena McGregor | February 28, 2011; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (112)

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)

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)

Rahm Emanuel: So close, so far

The decision over Emanuel's legitimacy as a candidate hinges on several intertwined leadership questions. For one, should exceptions be made for leaders who have been performing a government service? Or is the residency requirement a prudent way to make sure potential local officials have first-hand knowledge about the issues their citizens face?

By Jena McGregor | January 25, 2011; 09:01 AM ET | Comments (56)

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)

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)

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)

The contradiction of Richard Holbrooke

Seemingly all of the obituaries, remembrances and elegies following Holbrooke's death, on Dec. 13, highlight his extraordinary ego (here was a man who coveted the position of Secretary of State from the time he was a young foreign service member in Vietnam) while simultaneously recognizing him for his willingness to advise his young proteges.

By Jena McGregor | December 14, 2010; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (6)

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)

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)

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)

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)

The damage Joe Miller is doing by dragging out the fight

Miller's quixotic effort could soon reach the point of being more than detrimental to his own reputation--even tea party activists have said he risks damaging his own future political prospects--but could also be detrimental to the people he hoped to call his constituents.

By Jena McGregor | November 29, 2010; 07:39 AM ET | Comments (24)

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)

The remaking of Murkowski?

Murkowski will be a leader to watch, keeping the possibility alive that she could decide to vote her own way, "pulling a Joe Lieberman" on occasion. She may not owe much to her party. But she may feel she owes at least something to the independents and even Democrats who swung her way.

By Jena McGregor | November 18, 2010; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (27)

Cutback proposals pose leadership dilemma for federal managers

The cutbacks the deficit commission's chairmen recommend may go nowhere, of course. Many of their other proposals, from cutting the mortgage tax deduction to increasing the Social Security retirement age, may never gain real traction. But with the wind at the backs of GOP lawmakers, federal workforce reductions--both in size and in benefits--could be tangible. Government employees could see frozen salaries, trimmed retirement benefits and halted bonus levels.

By Jena McGregor | November 12, 2010; 06:01 AM ET | Comments (6)

Hearst's Cathleen Black, and the trend of 'outsiders' as schools chancellors

The pattern of mayors appointing chancellors outside the usual realm of longtime deputy public school system administrators is nothing new. Michelle Rhee's appointment in 2007 to lead D.C.'s schools surprised Washington, as the education nonprofit leader had never run a school--much less an organization anywhere near the size of the city's public school system.

By Jena McGregor | November 11, 2010; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (4)

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)

Time for Pelosi to call it quits as Democratic figurehead?

For better or for worse, selecting leaders is a very symbolic act. Someone may be an effective fundraiser, or a brilliant manager, or a seasoned negotiator; but if they are the wrong face for the wrong time, they have a much harder time being any of those things. With President Obama talking compromise and greater back-and-forth (he hopes) with the newly empowered Republican party, having Nancy Pelosi as the figurehead of the Democratic Congress sends the message that things are unlikely to change.

By Jena McGregor | November 8, 2010; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (44)

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)

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)

Kaya Henderson: The new and improved Rhee?

If ever there was an example that shows why management style should get more weight, it's Michelle Rhee. Consider the transfer of power from Rhee to Kaya Henderson, who will be interim schools chancellor but is also considered a potential permanent replacement. Not only did Henderson, like Rhee, get her start with Teach for America and work with Rhee for her New Teacher Project organization, she was an implementer of Rhee's strategies for reform in D.C. She calls Rhee her "friend, partner, mentor."

By Jena McGregor | October 15, 2010; 09:47 AM ET | Comments (8)

Where Rhee went wrong

Now that the dust has settled on the news of her departure, Rhee's tenure has plenty to teach leaders about managing change. While the views on Rhee's record are decidedly mixed, even supporters are likely to agree she violated one of the fundamental rules of change management: Rhee was never really able to enlist support from the people--namely teachers and parents--who would ultimately implement the changes she hoped to instill.

By Jena McGregor | October 13, 2010; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (84)

Fenty: The danger of going with your gut

The lessons for leaders are too many to count: Fenty is a textbook case for the risks not only of using brash tactics, but having an insular staff, lacking a sense of urgency and thumbing your nose at...

By Jena McGregor | September 15, 2010; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (11)

Paranoia may have helped Lisa Murkowski

Overconfidence is a natural affliction of existing leaders. Those already in power believe they can win on their records, and that voters have better memories than they really do. They are fooled by their own success, overly assured about their position, and fall victim to that unfortunate byproduct of power: hubris.

By Jena McGregor | August 25, 2010; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (10)

 
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