1 New President = 3 Lessons for All Leaders

1 New President = 3 Lessons for All Leaders

The United States presidency has been in the news now for what, 2 years? After the election, and before that the primary, and now we’ve finished the inauguration…I thought it would be interesting to look at the presidency right now through a different lens than is typical. I’d like to look at it through a management coaching lens.

What’s that? Well, it seems to me the traditional lens that most of us have been exposed to – over the last couple of years and certainly the last few months – has been the lens of reporters and the media and political pundits… rightfully so. That lens, it seems to me, is made up of 3 key things:

  1. They look at things in terms of, first of all, politics. Which side are you on? I’m on this side, so the other side is evil. No, I’m on the other side, so this side is evil. That’s the Republican, Democrat, Socialist whatever your party is – the political way of looking at it.
  2. The other way is, the policy way of looking at it, which is what a lot of the news is about. Which policies do you agree with? Do you agree or disagree with this policy? You’re dumb if you don’t and you’re smart if you do, or vice versa. So that gets into our belief structure about the actual policies that are being presented and what people’s attitudes are toward them.
  3. Then lastly, it seems to me, the 3rd area the media focuses on for the last few years is charisma, which is my term for, who do you like or trust? “Oh, I like her” or “I like him” or “I trust this one” or “I trust that one” or “I don’t this one or that one.”

Those are kind of the 3 lenses. So, let’s turn for a minute to another approach – as I said, the management coaching lens. It seems to me – the question that occurs to me is: How do we actually manage this monster? This giant federal government that we’re talking about here?

When I look at that as a management coach, I think in terms of 3 things that I look at that it seems to me would help us – me included – grow as managers and as leaders. Basically, we just hired a new president and a new vice president. And now, over the next few weeks and months, we’re going to see them begin to hire a team to run this giant organization.

The team, frankly, from my experience, is the key. We all focus on the president. The key is really the team, when you get into giant organizations.

I would suggest looking for 3 key indicators as you watch this team unfold, get selected, and begin to operate:

Indicator #1: Do they disagree with the boss?

Do they disagree with the boss? Because you see, it’s through disagreement that the boss ends up getting better decisions. If you resist disagreement, and you have a bunch of “yes” people around, uh oh. You’re liable to walk into trouble.

Indicator #2: What is their background?

What is their background? Not whether you agree with their background or you like the fact that they did this or that in their career – that’s not the point. The point is this: attributes are natural and inherent and they tend to repeat themselves. If a person has exhibited certain attributes in past jobs, they’re probably going to exhibit the same strong attributes in the new job. They’re not suddenly going to go 180 degrees the opposite direction.

Indicator #3: Do they ask and listen?

Thirdly, do they ask and listen? Asking and listening – versus just telling the people around you what to do – is really critical to continuous learning and to drawing other people out. Because there are a lot of people on this team, and asking questions and listening to their input is how you get all that knowledge and experience and talent out on the table.

So, in summary, where you’ve seen a couple of years of focus on politics, policy, and charisma, I suggest – for the next few months – you can add a little variety and spice and fun to your life, and learn some more as a manager and a leader, by focusing on

  1. Which ones challenge – in other words, disagree
  2. Which ones show the competence in their prior jobs – the attributes that will, again, be repeated
  3. And which ones listen and ask questions

So watch for those, and have fun!

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