A Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Amateur presidents on the other hand view the presidential role as one that fits him. An amateur president who assumes the role of a clerk is constantly occupied with strategies, strategies to complete one task and move on to the next. One of Neustadt’s primary examples of presidential clerkship is Harry S. Truman’s presidency. Neustadt claims that Truman “saw himself not as a man for whom the job was made, but as a man who had the job to do. He drew his confidence from seeing himself do it (Neustadt, p. 147). To a clerk, the position of the president has already been made. They are likened to professional presidents in that they exude confidence. However, their confidence draws from a different mindset. Truman was confident that he had the ability to do all the tasks that were required of him: make decisions, take initiatives, and be the “boss-and-spokesperson.” As a clerk, Truman did not allow self-interest overtake his responsibilities (Neustadt, p. 147). The idea of separating man from office is a key concept of the presidential clerk.
Pre-modern presidents act with the vision that their presidencies are whatever they make it to be. Like clerk presidents, they have the nation’s best interest in mind. Unlike clerk presidents, a pre-modern president’s self interest is the nation’s best interest. Their goal in every action is to increase their power stakes and build their reputation. Meanwhile, clerk president’s goal is to implement a strategy that seems to be the best fit in situations. Amateur clerk presidents do not employ the full extents of their power while professional pre-modern presidents not only utilizes the full extent of their powers but in such a way that benefits their own self interest.
Applying Neustadt’s concepts of the American president to Obama’s first term, one can see that the president embodied many characteristics of a professional president. Lawrence J Korb and Alexander H. Rothman highlight accomplishments of Obama’s foreign diplomacy in “Reclaiming and Rebuilding American Power.” The piece begins with an account of Obama’s agenda immediately taking office: “Barack Obama inherited a host of domestic and foreign policy challenges unmatched by any president in recent history” (Korb & Rothman, p. 267). Inheriting the responsibilities of all the presidents before him, Obama was placed in a situation where he had to choose between embodying the role of an amateur clerk president or a professional president. One of Obama’s main goals in the presidency was to “[refashion] the US’s reputation” in Iraq and send a message to misinformed Iraqi people that America had no intention of controlling Muslim countries (Korb & Rothman, p. 269). This contributes to Obama’s understanding of public prestige. He wanted to take actions that would reverse the effects of George W. Bush’s aggressive American presence abroad. Initiatives that Obama contributed to this goal, such as the National Security Strategy and the 2010 Nuclear Posture...
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Essays on Leadership: Great Responsibility needs Great Power talks about the need to empower your team with the necessary tools and resources in order for them to complete their tasks effectively.
You might have heard of the famous Spiderman quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
No doubt, if you have been given authority and decision making power, you must realize the lives and livelihoods that can be impacted by your decisions.
You therefore hold a great responsibility not just to yourself, but to others as well. But is the converse true?
If with great power comes great responsibility, does it mean that to have great responsibility requires power as well?
Yes, I would argue.
If you would delegate responsibility to someone, you need to equip that person with the power as well.
Managers and leaders often commit the mistake of giving people responsibility and not giving them the corresponding power to execute their responsibilities well.
How many people have you met that were frustrated with their jobs simply because they had job responsibilities that they did not have power to fulfill?
They try their very best, but they become resigned or frustrated because they realize they simply do not have the resources; decision making power; time to fulfill it.
In other words, they were given a task, but they were not given the resources to complete that task. “Conquer that land and rule over it! Here, you shall have a measly soldier for your mission.”
Is it any surprise that the mission will not be completed?
But sadly, that’s how managers often treat their staff.
Most people are capable of good judgement and can fulfil tasks with relative competency.
That is, if you give them sufficient resources, they will be able to achieve what is asked of them. More often than not, it is leaders that underestimate the resources required of the task, and as a result, under-equip their team.
Resources can come in the form of manpower, time, finances, and whatever is required to fulfil the task at hand.
Besides the lack of resources, another mistake that managers and leaders make is to not give their team the full decision making power over their resources.
Maybe the resources have been given, but yet, maybe out of insecurity or the need for control, power has not been delegated to the team member or staff to execute the task.
So every time a team member wants to make a decision, they have to go back to the manager and consult if the decision is okay with him. In essence, the decision maker becomes the manager again.
That is simply not good leadership. That is soul-killing micromanagement.
As a leader, you want bring out the potential of every person by giving him the resources necessary for the task and then trusting him to complete the job!
Imagine this, a king sends a general to a faraway land to invade and conquer. He gives the general sufficient resources, soldiers, supplies, horses and weapons to last the expected period of the war.
But he tells the general that every move the general makes must be checked through with the king first. If he wants to pitch camp, he must check with the king; if he wants to adopt a flanking strategy, he must too, check with the king.
Can you imagine how FRUSTRATING that will be for the general?
The army would be so ineffective that nothing will probably be done. And it’s going to be the general’s fault.
You see how incredulous that is? But yet, that’s what most managers do. They send their team on a mission, but they do not trust them enough to make the right choices, so they micromanage.
In the end, the manager gets dismal results because of it. Whose fault is it really?
If you’re a leader, remember to trust your team!
Give them the resources that they need, and give them power to execute the task or the mission.
If you’re going to give them the responsibility, give them the power as well.
You will find that you actually have a team of truly capable generals that can execute and perform when they are truly given these.
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