Our President Should Think Like a CEO

The Wall Street Journal recently convened its annual CEO Council.

This year, some 100 CEOs gathered and concluded that the nation’s top five priorities are:

• create a globally competitive tax system;

• immigration policies should support innovation;

• improve human capital;

• upgrade our energy infrastructure;

• invest in R&D.

The question that must be asked is: Why doesn’t President Barack Obama and members of Congress come to these same conclusions? The answer is that the country needs to be run by people who understand business.

This isn’t the case. If it was, we wouldn’t have some 14 million unemployed Americans.

This should be the impetus for demanding that any presidential candidate
must have a sound business background. Being a community organizer doesn’t prepare anyone for leading a nation. The results are obvious.

I came across an on-line piece that outlined the five attributes of a great CEO:

• A great CEO leads;

• A great CEO is clear;

• A great CEO gets their hands dirty;

• A great CEO is strategic;

• A great CEO knows when they are not being a great CEO.

Think how our country would be energized if a president had these qualities.

The most important attribute is that a CEO leads. He or she demonstrates a commitment to succeed and not to curry favor with employees or even their board.

The president should be showing the American people that he gets the big picture while empathizing with their plight. That means job creation. And coincidently it starts with the number one priority of the CEO Council: create a globally competitive tax system.

When America is allowed to compete on a level playing field amazing things happen. Millions of U.S. jobs are created. A plugged-in leader intrinsically understands this and builds a coalition that appreciates the relationship between American exports and American prosperity.

A great CEO is clear. And so should be the U.S. president. Don’t hide behind programs that are so complicated no one understands them. Tell the people what you are going to do, then do it. The American people realize we have problems. They have been incredibly patient. There will be challenges along the way. We cannot change the weather, but we can reset the sails. Be bold and admit you have been wrong and change directions.

A great CEO gets his hands dirty. That means putting your reputation on the line to support the company’s goals.

Where is the president when it comes to personally taking charge of economic planning and immigration reform? He’s nowhere to be found. Staff members take his place. If a program is important, it’s important to get your hands dirty and make the program work – for the sake of the American people.

A great CEO is strategic. In a company, it means studying both short and long-term challenges. For a U.S. president, it means the same thing. The over-riding strategy should not be how to get re-elected. When doing the right thing, everything else falls into place.

Most importantly, a great CEO knows when he is no longer a great CEO. In the business community, if the job isn’t getting done, the CEO is out, for the good of its shareholders and its employees. This should apply to the presidency. If the job isn’t getting done, a president should not seek re-election, for the good of the country.

These are lessons that should be engrained into every administration. But the president has surrounded himself with academics and others with little or no business acumen. Is it any wonder we have been languishing in mediocrity and wallowing in our shared misery?

When the president starts acting like a CEO; we will start performing like the great nation we are destined to be.

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