Presidential Management Style: Hillary Clinton
by ademption, Thu Oct 25, 2007 at 07:06:09 PM EDT
http://www.amazon.com/Presidential-Diffe rence-Leadership-Style-George/dp/0691119 090/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-1735949-5102033? ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193363636&a mp;sr=8-1
Greenstein argues that a president's inability to organize the executive branch can have a debilitating effect on the entire administration. If a president doesn't have the management skills to rally colleagues and structure their activities effectively then the whole agenda can quickly become unworkable.
Greenstein identified several key elements in determining which presidents possessed the best management skills. In evaluating a candidate,
1.) Does the candidate have the ability to forge a team; are the staffers working as a team to perform a shared goal or are they competing against each other for their own aggrandizement?
2.) Does the candidate have the ability to get the most out of their team? Does the candidate use the unique gifts of his/her staff members as resources for the campaign?
3.) Does the candidate minimize the tendency of staffers to provide advice that s/he only wants to hear or does s/he foster an enviroment where subordinates feel safe to offer advice that could potentially be unwelcome by the candidate?
4.) Is the candidate proficient in creating an effective organization?
5.) How does the candidate gather and synthesize various pieces of advice and information?
Interestingly enough, the Associated Press wrote a story this summer about each candidate's management style on the campaign trail and how it might provide guidance to voters on how they would perform in office.
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articl es/2007/07/20/2008_campaigns_showcase_ma nagement_skill/
"There definitely is something to be learned from the way candidates manage their campaigns," said Costas Panagopoulos, director of Fordham University's campaign management program. "It's a fine line candidates have to walk between being too involved and being uninvolved, and the same could be said about their administrations. There are certainly parallels."
This election, some candidates view the campaign as an opportunity to display their leadership abilities or, at least in one case, counter the notion that they're not experienced enough to run the country.
"One of the things that I hope over the course of this campaign I show is the capacity to manage this pretty unwieldy process of a political race," Obama said in May. "And to make sure that people have a sense of how I deal with adversity, how I deal with mistakes, who do I have around me to make sure that, you know, we're executing on the things that need to get done."
The AP article then goes on to describe the management styles of various candidates on both sides of the aisle.
In tomorrow's edition, the New York Times devotes an entire article to Hillary Clinton's management style. In "The Evolution of Hillary Clinton as Manager," Mark Leibovich presents Clinton as a no-nonsense, methodical, efficient and disciplined manager.
Her background as a boss, powerful spouse and advocate could signal Mrs. Clinton's approach to the job for which she is now applying. She is credited with hiring capable, loyal staff members, though her top aides have also been called insular and needlessly defensive at times. Friends and advisers say Mrs. Clinton has been a diligent student of her own mistakes, and her style has evolved over the years from a tendency to micromanage to a greater willingness to delegate; from a bent toward perfectionism to one closer to pragmatism; from a go-for-broke mentality to one more willing to compromise.
One of the most difficult things to ascertain about a presidential candidate is how they would run the executive branch. Would their management style mesh with the responsibilities of running a large organization OR would their style interfere with the execution of their policies? Unless we were present at the headquarters of each candidate on a daily basis, this type of information would be very hard to come by. That's why I appreciate this NY Times article in getting people who once worked with Hillary at the White House as well as her staffers now to discuss the evolution of her management skills.
One of the reasons why I'm supporting Hillary is that she has demonstrated her flexibility in changing her leadership style when she realized that it wasn't effective. As the article noted, she has learned not to micromanage. A micromanager-in-chief can get lost in the minutia and fail to see the big picture. From what I understand, the media derided President Carter for his micro-managing style, ie for choosing the White House's gardner etc.
The article also provides some answers to the questions posed by Greenstein which I delineated above. For instance, Hillary has forged a team--Hillaryland--which appears to be working well together on a shared goal of Hillary winning the Democratic nomination. They all appear to be working to the best of their unique abilities based upon the campaign they've run.
The article raises the question whether Hillaryland is too insular for opposing viewpoints to be presented within campaign circles. Senator Clinton addresses this concern in the article:
Having a tight inner circle can cut both ways, Professor Mayer said. With Mr. Bush, he said, "it looked fine to have this group of loyal Texans in there, until his approval ratings went under 40 percent and there were no fresh eyes to see the mistakes."
Mrs. Clinton, not surprisingly, bristles at such comparisons. She contrasts what she calls the "echo chamber" around the president with her own willingness to expand her own circle, hear disputes and solicit opposing views.
The people who thrive within Mrs. Clinton's "process" are those who best provide the currency of choices. "She wants to know, `O.K., what are my options here?'" Ms. Solis Doyle said. "She wants a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. She wants recommendations. Then she'll make a decision."
Patti Solis Doyle said something similiar in her talk at GW over a week ago...
She told the audience that people in HRC's campaign have very strong personalities and they often have opinions which they disagree with each other. She said that was fine. Hillary prefers hearing divergent viewpoints and then making decisions based upon the best argument.
I wish that the media would write more stories like this NY Times article. In some ways it might be more telling about what type of executive that the candidate will become as president. The media and quite frankly the blogosphere focus a great deal on the communication style of presidential candidates and not how they would govern if elected. A presidential candidate can have all the good ideas in the world, but if s/he does not have the management skills to carry out his/her agenda, then at the end of the day it really doesn't matter what ideas they propose on the campaign trail....