The Editor's Page -- Management Lessons From The President

Dec. 21, 2004
New leader embraces the fundamentals.

Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, President George W. Bush is running the government's business in textbook style, something that many of us, tired of the 24/7, connected-all-the-time world epitomized by the Clinton Administration, might find reassuring. After all, if the President of the United States can manage the affairs of a $2-trillion-dollar enterprise and still get home for dinner, comfortably fit in his daily exercise, and get away on the weekends, he must be doing something right. Surely those of us running much smaller operations can benefit from his example and similarly reorder our priorities. By textbook style, of course, I mean all those leadership and management books we've so long ignored and whose basic principles Bush is now raising to an art form. Some of the more notable tips that bear repeating, now that the leader of the free world embraces them, include: Delegation: Who among us doesn't need to relearn the importance of relying more on those reporting to us? Whether because of fear that others will think we're not working hard enough, or because we think our underlings aren't smart enough, many leaders choose to handle more assignments than necessary. Bush blithely ignores critics who suggest that he delegates so much because he's lazy or incompetent. Proper Perspective on Polling: In business the corollary to polling is getting close to the customer via endless surveys, user groups, etc., to find out what the customer really wants. But slavish attention to what your customers say they want may cause you to miss the next big killer product. After all, no customer ever asked for a portable cassette player until Sony marketed the Walkman, and nobody asked for the latest craze called the Internet. Bush derides polling (at least publicly), choosing instead to lead his constituents and give them what he thinks they need whether they ask for it or not. Limited Agenda: How many times have you walked out of a three-year strategy meeting with your head spinning and a list of 10 new goals to reach with a smaller budget? How many times have you announced to your team the Next Big Initiative, only to watch their eyes roll upon hearing what they'll dub the management fad of the month? Not Bush: He is focused on a three-part agenda and will hammer away to accomplish it. Only time will tell whether George W.'s government-as-business model will work. But for us in business, it's a good time to rededicate ourselves to these fundamental management strategies.

In our Aug. 13 issue, IndustryWeek will introduce IW's Best Manufacturing Companies, honoring the finest examples of leadership in manufacturing from around the world. For details and to nominate a company, go to Patricia Panchak is IW's Editor-In-Chief. She is based in Cleveland

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