Taking care of business every way
I discussed the need for political leaders to have corporate business experience in the post “California Dreaming” (April 2010). At that time Meg Whitman (former CEO of E-Bay) and Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett-Packard) were running for governor and senator respectively in California. My argument was that to solve the country’s economic (business) problems, you need people with real business experience. Unfortunately both the women lost. Now California is depending on Gov. Jerry Brown to fix its fiscal mess and it is not going so well.
It appears that once again I was ahead of the curve. Now the main issue in the presidential campaign is the value of business experience. Several commentators are claiming that corporate business experience does not qualify you to be President of the United States and that this experience is irrelevant when evaluating presidential candidates. Obviously I disagree.
This argument is ludicrous. It’s referred to as the executive branch of government. Hello! Do you think someone who has been a business executive might have learned something relevant to serving in the executive branch? The President is also referred to as the Chief Executive of the United States. Chief executive of a large corporation, chief executive of a large country: can you maybe see how experience in one might be useful in the other?
Based on my observations of many years of business experience, here is a list of skills business executives must learn and display to be successful:
- How to take responsibility for your decisions (and not blame others)
- How to lead a diverse group of people to achieve corporate goals (leadership skills)
- How to make good decisions, how to make unpopular decisions, how to recover from bad decisions. (decision making skills)
- How to allocate and utilize assets wisely
- How to evaluate and hire outstanding talent
- How to develop and execute strategic plans
- Understand how a “sub-macro” economy works and how to generate profit under constantly changing conditions
- How to build and motivate teams
- How to develop strong leaders to serve under and after you
- How to influence others one-on-one (how to create “buy-in”)
- How to listen to the opinions of others and use the information to choose the best course of action
- Understand the importance of strategic alliances and loyalty
- How to compete against strong rivals
- How to unite opposing factions without “taking sides”
And those commentators arguing otherwise still don’t get it. I’m guessing that they never worked in an organization other than journalism or government. After generating much criticism after writing their initial articles, a couple of them tried to defend their positions by claiming that it is not being “Socialist” to criticize someone’s business success. I happen to agree with this. When you make this type of inane argument, you don’t sound like a Socialist. No, you sound like a freakin’ Communist.