What is the most important skill necessary to be a successful President of the United States?
The simple answer is leadership. That is an obvious answer, but then the question is what are the skills that make a good leader? That answer is a little more complex. How do we measure leadership? As it relates to the President, the answer should be does he get results that are good for the country. That should be the answer for every decision he makes. Obviously, that should also be the answer for measuring the performance of Congress. Are they making decisions that are good for the country? To often the President and Congress have a higher priority on what is good for their political base.
Let me try to answer the question with a list of skills needed to be a good leader.
1. Good verbal communication skills. Most people agree that our current President has excellent communication skills. On the surface, he does. But how do we measure those communication skills? Does he get results that are good for the country? Does he tell us what he wants to do and use facts to explain why his plans are good for the country? Does he follow through on what he says he is going to do, or does he blame others for his inability to work with Congress to get the things done he wants to do?
2. Trust. I believe he came into office with a high level of trust from the American people and Congress. Over time for a variety of reasons, he has lost much of that trust.
3. Good judgment. Again, the yardstick for good judgment is results. Are the results of his decisions good for the country?
4. Compromise, knowing when to compromise, how to compromise, and why to compromise. Too often our elected officials in Washington refuse to compromise because they worry that it shows weakness. If done poorly, it can show weakness, but compromise is not weakness by definition. A sign of a strong leader is one who will compromise to build a relationship, and/or to build trust. Knowing when, how and why to compromise are linked to the other skill above, good judgment.
5. Ability to work with Congress. Let’s look at one example of President Obama’s decision on how he would work with Congress. He chose to force a new health care system through Congress without one vote from the Republicans. True, the Democrats had a majority in both houses, and with political maneuvering they were able to pass the legislation. Is the legislation good for the country? Time will tell, but there is pretty strong evidence that is may not be. Let’s look at a piece of that legislation. On the surface the concept of the legislation is that everyone is entitled to health care and everyone is required to buy health care insurance that meets a minimum standard or pay a penalty. But is everyone really required to have health care? No. Some people are exempt from the requirement. Senators and Congressmen and their staffs are not required to participate in mandated health care. Wouldn’t it be better for the country if everyone was required to have the mandated health care? If it is a mandate, why isn’t everyone required to have it, including the President, the Senators, the Congressmen, and all their staffs? Personally, I don’t think anyone should be mandated to have health care, but if we are going to have a system that requires some to have it, then we should have a system that requires everyone to have it. A President with good leadership skills would have found a way to find compromises that would have made the final result better for the country.