Effective leadership in business and politics requires going to W.A.R. to achieve successful solutions: Working on the right problem. Asking the right questions. Removing barriers that impede progress toward the ultimate goal. Sometimes that W.A.R. must start with your own management team.
It might seem obvious that President Bush is in charge of what goes on in the White House, but it is more obvious that he has some crippling weaknesses in his management team. The negative outcry over the sale of management of six U.S. ports by a British firm to Dubai Ports World, owned by the United Arab Emirates, is the latest distraction to test the president’s leadership style, and potentially weaken his fragile political capital. Bush’s second term has already been marked by a number of public relations missteps, including federal response to Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court and, though hugely overblown, the handling of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident.
The latest news on the ports deal – that the president was not made aware of the sale until other administration officials had already approved it – has empowered Bush’s political enemies and media critics who revel in labeling the administration as out of touch and secretive. It is clear that those at the top levels of the president’s administration present barriers to his ability to lead the nation and effectively communicate his policy agenda to Congress and the public. Bush must remove these barriers immediately to ensure a successful second term.
The president and his leadership team have generally worked on the right economic problems during his two terms. Early in his first term, Bush established a commission to study the Social Security system and to recommend alternatives to restructure the dysfunctional and soon insolvent program. Most recently, the president delivered a State of the Union address that was strong on national defense, but weak and misguided on domestic policy initiatives. The address included plans for yet another commission to propose solutions to the Social Security system.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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