Recently I heard renowned journalist Bob Woodward
speak on the lessons of the Bush presidency.
The lessons he listed were based on his
conversations with President Bush and others.
They are so similar to
those that leaders of innovative
organizations need to heed, that I thought
you might want to hear them.
1. To deal with complex issues, leaders need
a cohesive team that will sit together
and honestly explore and debate tough questions.
2. Leaders need to understand what's going
on. While they must delegate, good leaders
cannot outsource knowledge of
the challenge at hand. Woodward called this,
"Mind on, but hands off!"
3. Leaders need a way of resolving
contradictory data. Issues and differences
of opinion must be addressed. Leaders must
be engaged and feel
comfortable dealing with controversy.
4. Leaders must develop 1-1 relationships
with their direct reports, asking them
what they think. Then they must bring them all
together to resolve their differences.
Leaders cannot put a desire for harmony
above the need to resolve conflict and test
5. Finally, leaders must find a way to tell
the truth, even if the truth is not what
their listeners want to hear. The leader
needs to trust the maturity of those
listeners in wanting and needing to know the
George W. Bush is said to have called himself
"the decider." As a decider, he didn't
need to listen. According to a Boston Globe
"That's the way things were
run at Wall Street institutions like Lehman
Brothers and Merrill Lynch. But in modern
management, there's no future for that model.
Leaders have to turn their organization into
a decision-making engine where all decisions
aren't made at the top."
According to the article, U.S. CEOs often
reflect the style of the President.
"The approaches of past presidents often
have served as templates for occupants of the
nation's corner offices."
Fortune magazine described President-elect
Barack Obama's campaign as an
"impressive enterprise:" "consistent yet
innovative, disciplined yet nimble, and
strung together with one overriding rule: No
jerks allowed. With egos expected to be
checked at the door." The article went on to
say that Obama "likes to hear from a range of
experts before reaching a decision." Aides
describe his preference for aggressive
and openness. He
himself is quoted as saying, "I believe in a
strong feedback loop."
If the Globe
article noted above is correct, then we will
in CEOs, more inclination to question, learn
For readers familiar with the leadership
style that promotes innovation, this
shift will also be very good news!
If you know exactly where you're going,
what's the point of going there?
--- Pablo Picasso
Lynne Levesque Consulting
global consultancy dedicated to
accelerating the strategic and
creative performance of leaders and their
organizations -- in ways you've never seen