Search This Blog

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hopeful Transition

The transition of a government with a new president is a remarkable process to watch. This past weekend, President-elect Trump slipped away to one of his several retreat locations to interview more candidates for jobs. The previous week those interviews were done in Trump Tower in New York.

Obviously, the ability to find the right people for the right job is the challenge. As president, you get to choose them. But they also have to want to work for you. The success of his presidency will be measured by the effectiveness of his team to fulfill the Trump agenda.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump met with Mitt Romney. As a former governor and presidential candidate himself, I’m sure he had much to offer. In preparing for his possible presidency four years ago, Mr. Romney created the Romney Readiness Project. Many people think that plan was one of the best-run transition efforts even though it went unused.

So how big is the task at hand to transition a government? The New York Times described it this way: “Mr. Trump…is under immense pressure to find 4,100 qualified people to lead it. In an ideal scenario, his White House staff should be in place, and the 100 highest-ranking government agency officials—the cabinet, plus a range of defense, homeland security, disaster and pandemic response officials—should be ready to start work the moment Mr. Trump puts his hand on the Bible, to guard the nation from vulnerability during the transfer of power. That means their vetting and security clearances should be done and the nominees lined up for Senate confirmation.” Talk about a start up challenge!

Stanford University’s Public Policy Program has developed a thesis on what makes a successful president. The overview claims that the paper offers “three systematic and rigorous dimensions” for measurement. External factors are considered. What challenges does a president face when he comes into office and how did he handle these situations? How did the public perceive his abilities as rated in opinion polls during his or her time in office? And this would be critical: what kind of legislative success did the president achieve in implementing campaign promises?

Let’s face it. The Donald is starting with a real challenge in public perception. It is a problem aided by relentless pounding of various media that didn’t like him from the start. So as for poll results, it will take some truly measurable success to move the needle upward.

Steve Tobak is a management consultant and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur. Just over a year ago on the website he shared “11 Qualities Our Next President Must Have.” In quick form, his list included:

  • Serious leadership chops. The ability to bring other leaders together.
  • Serious management chops. Basically, financial and organizational knowledge.
  • Goal- and achievement-oriented. Leaders set aggressive goals and achieve them.
  • Real life experience...outside of politics. Not Beltway life experience.
  • Advocate for meritocracy, not bureaucracy. Avoid unholy alliances that lead to unethical behavior. 
  • Master negotiator. Don’t be giving away what we don’t have or should not yield.
  • Plain spoken and direct. Call things as they are.
  • Competitive spirit and driven to win. A competitive world requires a competitive mindset.
  • In it for the long term. Govern for the future of our country, not simply your constituencies.
  • Makes the right calls. Take risks. Be decisive...but get it right. (Sounds easy.)
  • Holds himself and others accountable. Integrity up and down is part of the package for leaders.

While all of those personal skills and character traits are valuable, I would add to this list. And what I would add feeds off a premise that departs from hardcore business. It’s the human side of the equation.

Government leadership requires people skills to build consensus. The ability to lead with both a firm hand and an understanding heart will go a long way to both healing our country and building key international alliances. No doubt President-elect Trump has been told this. It isn’t like running your own show as many CEOs are prone to do. Learning to yield on non-essentials is vital.

Those people skills require discernment. The mere size of government activity requires good counselors. Some of those should be held in a much tighter inner circle than others.

We often describe our president as the “leader of the free world.” To that end, he or she should clearly understand and appreciate American exceptionalism. In 2012, the Republican platform included seven sections around this idea. The party proclaimed its embrace for “American exceptionalism—the conviction that our country holds a unique place in human history.”

Donald Trump was questioned about being an advocate for this in 2015. He said “it is not a nice term.” It also appeared he didn’t understand it. Perhaps he will come to understand it.

Finally, the president should learn to be a champion of hope. The biblical prophet Jeremiah was used by God for that purpose. His hope message was to carry God’s people through the time of the Babylonian captivity and beyond. Jeremiah explained how God would bring a remnant back to Judah to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. He used these words, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

God has not assured us as a nation of the same promise. But leaders who turn to Him for guidance and wisdom can expect to be heard by the Sovereign. And a country that seeks His ways can expect God’s blessings. And hope will arise!

Too bad they don’t teach that in our top management schools.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.