It’s The Leadership Stupid!

Those of us who have enjoyed significant leadership responsibilities know the drill. Yes, you’re responsible for everything but you can’t keep your fingers on everything. The attempt to be involved in everything everywhere is foolishness so you seek to create a culture that can identify big issues, creates the expectation for honesty and accountability and insures that everyone knows that there are situations where the organizational chart simply does not apply; communication applies.

In my case a part of the leadership culture was; “if a mistake is made, if something blows up, if the numbers turn bad, I better hear about it before anyone else, and I better hear about it immediately”! If I have to wait for a month end report to know what’s happening they’ll be hell to pay. People were fired for not satisfying that expectation. It was not the mistake that got them fired it was, as it always is, the instinct to cover it up or minimize its importance.

Assuming Mr. Biden is correct and that “we” did not have direct information about the Benghazi horror even in the aftermath of the Congressional hearings which indicated clearly that the administration did know about the security situation; so what? The fact of not knowing, of not having a culture in place that would have delivered the critical information to the President is a leadership failure of massive proportions. By extension the same applies to the Secretary of State.

For the President to have then tripped off to Las Vegas in search of campaign cash is also a demonstration of the dearth of leadership that appears to be the Achilles heel of this President. Many warned of a lack of experience surrounding candidate Obama, the holes in the resume were manifest; chief amongst them leadership experience. Effective leaders know that a combination of words, decisions and most importantly, actions is what delivers the important messages to their organizations.

Bart Giamatti, former President of Yale University and Major League Baseball Commissioner offered a definition of leadership that guided me for decades; I paraphrase. “Management is the organizing of expertise to accomplish tasks, it is a technical exercise. Leadership, however, is a moral exercise; it’s what defines the execution of those tasks. Leadership illuminates vision and defines the moral center of the organizations culture.”

Where is the moral center in the administration if Benghazi is illustrative? Why do we have campaign operatives addressing the Benghazi question? No Secretary of State, she’s off to Peru, no high ranking national intelligence leaders, no Director of National Intelligence, no CIA Director, no National Security Council officials on the Sunday shows. We get campaign functionaries David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs. Is David Axelrod the moral center of the administration, or perhaps the fact challenged Stephanie Cutter?

Britt Hume went to the heart of the matter as he held his colleague Mr. Wallace to account over the Susan Rice appearance. “Where do the requests for Sunday show guests go?” Answer, the White House! That simple question put the Susan Rice performance in its proper context, the request went to the White House and the sycophantic Ms. Rice performed as directed. The White House was right in the middle of the ‘video’ excuse. Perhaps it was the President who directed the appearance, perhaps not.

When viewed within a ‘leadership’ context exactly how doesn’t matter. What matters is the idea that the ‘video’ excuse was viewed as the first, best option by the President’s organization. We now know that the ‘video’ had little to nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi.

This example of leadership, as the definition of a moral center is, really, all we should need to know!

  • Bones

    I have to wonder, did you have similar sentiments toward the administration following 9/11?

  • YES!!!!

  • Bill Hedges

    Bad events ARE going to happen:

  • Bill Hedges

    Part 2

    Some of buma’s talking points tonight:

  • Bill Hedges

    Part 3

    Maybe I missed how the two 911 are SO similar. Can you clear the air ???

    For Bush there was no previous 911 to put him on his guard. Twin towers was not asking for more security. Major riots and governments in Mid East had not been turned upside down LIKE in RECENT times.

    Maybe Bush was warned of possible violence in America. buma administration had SPECIFIC LOCATION. Can’t guard all of America that well but one embassy in very trouble area THEY can certainly TRY. Seems good place to guard VERY HEAVILY anyhow.

    Bush developed homeland security. buma …………..

  • Daniel Paleka

    To think that the anti muslim video which was all the headlines while I was in Europe during the attack on the US consulate in Libya is just ignorance. The timing of the attacks on the consulate and later when I was in Istanbul and the grenades came over the Syrian border was too coincidntal for one to believe that the persons responsible were no trying to take advantage of the current state of affairs.

  • Kate Ewing

    I’d be able to take the content of this piece a little more seriously were the grammar not so awful.

  • Doug Peterson

    @ Kate Ewing, self-proclaimed queen of grammar: Yes, there are some relatively inconsequential punctuation problems, but the message is stated very well.

    Your comment was, “I’d be able to take the content of this piece a little more seriously were the grammar not so awful.” Which begs the grammatically-related question: So awful as what? Perhaps that logic-challenged phrasing is not a problem in the Queen’s English. Of course it is. Grammatically-speaking, you should end your comment with an aposiopesis to indicate you are not completing your thought.

    Ironic, isn’t it, how quickly you note others’ flaws but fail to see your own.

    Get over yourself and accept that great thinkers can express great ideas without the Procrustean conventions of grammatical restrictions. The converse of that is also true, by the way.

  • Landreaux


    Had to look up Procrustean. Thanks, got it.

  • Mike

    Mr. Peterson:

    There is nothing wrong with Ms. Ewing’s sentence. It’s perfectly correct. You need to look up the definition of aposiopesis. It has absolutely no relevance in this context. You should also learn the proper use of the phrase ‘beg the question’. It refers to a specific type of logical error. The proper usage is ‘raises or brings up the question’.

    There is nothing procrustean about asking for good grammar and usage. Due to the sorry state of our schools, colleges and universities are having to expend scarce resources teaching students how to write clear, understandable sentences—something they used to learn at the elementary and secondary level. The deterioration of our communication skills is a serious problem in business and every other area of our national life.

  • Mike

    i ‘m sorry. Logical error is an oxymoron. I should have written ‘error in logic’.

  • Bill Hedges


    YOU MADE error ? How human !!! Guess we all do. Caught by ourself or NOT.

    Doug’s conclusion said it best. Was lost on you:

    “Get over yourself and accept that great thinkers can express great ideas without the Procrustean conventions of grammatical restrictions. The converse of that is also true, by the way.”

  • All,

    Be assured I will make additional grammatical errors in the future, despite best efforts.Given limited time to do this I do focus more on content and ideas but also do try to be ‘correct’. I’ve often preached that there is a difference between being ‘right’ and being ‘correct’.

    Mea Culpa in advance!

  • Mike


    Ms. Ewing was referring to the post just above hers, which is somewhat hard to follow. I don’t think anyone has any difficulty reading your pieces. They’re well written.

  • Landreaux

    Thanks, always appreciate the kind words.