Sunday, November 09, 2008

President, Leadership, Emotional Intelligence

President Barack Obama will soon begin a process that is part of leadership -- disappointing people. Because the constituency is deeply divided, and because he needs more support to push his legislation through, he will have to win over some of those who voted against him (build a broader political base) and in so-doing, will lose some of those who voted for him.

And because he now has to 'put feet' to his idealistic promises he will do the same - disappoint many.

What will he do and how will he do it?

Or course I'm concerned about the election. Who isn't. Whichever way you voted we have some monumnetal work to be done.

So I've been reading.

I went back to LBJ, who pushed some major US-changing legislation through - to say the least. Many reading this blog may not have lived through "integration" or have an inkling what it meant at the time. I remember my husband and I pondering a trip from N. C. to Florida, and being afraid to drive that route at the time.

At any rate, about leadership, from an article on LBJ:

He was fond of quoting Sam Rayburn as saying that ''A man who can't size up another person when he walks in the room had better be in another profession.'' No one could do that better than Johnson. His greatest gifts of leadership - the ability to understand, persuade and subdue - depended on connections and relationships that existed on a human scale.

The part we seem to forget, in our negotiations, is the "subdue" part. Big emotional intelligence thing there. It could be re-phrased as the flip side of "don't leave them wounded."

To continue:

''I always believed,'' he once said, ''that as long as I could take someone into a room with me I could make him my friend. And that included anybody, even Nikita Khrushchev. From the start of my Presidency, I believed that if I handled him right he would go along with me. Deep down, hidden way below, he too wanted what was good, but every now and then this terrible urge for world domination would get into him and take control and then he'd go off on some crazy jag, like putting those missiles in Cuba. I saw all that in him and knew I could cope with it so long as he and I were in the same room.''

Later, as the enigmatic Ho Chi Minh loosed forces that threatened to destroy him, he would remark: ''If only I could get Ho in a room with me, I'm sure we could work things out.''

And then:

It was true that there were few who could totally resist the influence of Lyndon Johnson's personal presence.

''I can't stand the bastard,'' Robert Kennedy once told me after a private meeting with the President, ''but he's the most formidable human being I've ever met.''

From Dick Goodwin's President Lyndon Johnson: The War Within .

What will happen now is we will see if he can be a leader as well as someone who can win an election.

May God bless him in his endeavors, and the U. S. as well.

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