I have never been a CEO of a company, or a top level manager. I have held low and mid-level management positions. I have supervised departments of three to eighty people. I have supervised salary and hourly workers. I have coached and managed and supervised.
One of the first basics of leadership I learned as far back as patrol leader of the Wolverine Patrol in Boy Scout Troop 338 was you have to give those around you clear objectives and the means to complete those tasks. Emotion plays no part in leadership. Like or dislike, political or moral differences have no role in performing the task, the work, the hike, life, or any other objective
There are books and seminars and classes to teach someone to manage and lead. The military has perfected the technics.
My leadership philosophy can be summed up neatly: We made a mistake -- you did a great job. Simply, when working for me, the task was not completed, the work was not done, it was because I failed to give you the direction, support, information, skills, or tools to complete the assignment. I failed you in leadership and management because I allowed you to fail. If the task was completed, then you did it.
This attitude has never failed me.
Politics aside. the President concerns me. It is becoming increasingly clear he lacks the leadership and managerial skill set to be President. He is not the first to be elected based on charm, or reputation, not on his leadership abilities. It may be acceptable, or even admirable as a community organiser to proclaim you are going down to City Hall to "kick some ass". That approach rarely works in a corporate environment. It may be effective organizing to appologize for actions you cannot control, but in the real world it only makes your adversaries and co-workers think you are weak.
I am not saying you have to be a self-righteous asshole, but finger-pointing and blamestorming are not effective leadership technics. We have all worked for that guy. Did you respect him? Was he a good boss/supervisor/leader? Say what you like about Pallin or McCain, again leaving politics aside, at least they have demonstrated leadership abilities. Running for election is in no way the same as running and air wing or a city or a State. On that there can be no argument.
President Obama to date has shown very little leadership. He cannot govern his emotions. He jumped the gun in the Harvard case, he has been "angry" at not only the Israelis but the officials at BP. He has stated he is in charge, but now wants to kick some ass. Part of the issue in the Gulf are that the problem is beyond fixing in a few days. The next problem is the very burden of the Federal Buaracracy. This stymied the efforts to recover from Katrina, and is an issue now.
Some in a position of power will accept responsibility. Other people want to point fingers and get all angry, like a four year old who does not get his way.
Which, I ask, is a real leader?
As a brief postscript, For those of you who would argue the point. Would your opinion of the President change if I told you, more than 50 days into the oil spill that President Obama has yet to have ameeting with the CEO of BP?