11 July 2009

It’s interesting to watch politics. At least I find it interesting. The science of ‘leading’ people is inexact and so very few do it well. There’s the authoratarian path… Which works better in some venues than others. Politically George bush, Harvey Weinstein and steve jobs have nothing in common. But their leadership styles, from the outside looking in, are similar. It’s a very top-down, ‘it’s my way or else’ org chart. The generals at the top move the troops forward and the grunts on the bottom charge forward as ordered. It’s served Harvey and Steve well in business and their creative visions have both quite literally changed the world. And even for a while GWB’s authoratarian style seemed uniquely suited for the times. In the days after 9-11 the country was united behind it’s leadership and moved forward with confidence. The problem with the authoratian approach is that after a while it begins to wear on the system. If you don’t believe me, ask steve and harvey’s former employees. One former apple employee told me ‘he’s like plutonium: very powerful, but don’t stand too close.’ Indeed, by the second year of his second term, the country was so tired of Bush, they were wring phrases like ‘worst president ever’. Really? Ever? Really? Was he really the ‘worst’ or was it just his leadership style that made you not want to follow him? That’s why it’s interesting to me the course President Obama is taking. He’s stated unequivocally that he believes in gay rights, but he hasn’t asked anyone to do anything they’re not comfortable doing. He believes we need real healthcare reform but hasn’t really forced a public option on the American taxpayers who are ultimately the ones who have to pay the bill. Some have faulted him for not shoving some ideaology down the throats of those people who disagree with him. And indeed he has really more of a mandate from the American people to govern than Bush or Clinton ever did. But the way he chooses to use his power is intriguing. He chooses to influence people to make good decisions. It’s fascinating in it’s subtlety and, in my opinion, will be studied for centuries to come. If, that is, it’s successful.