Senior leadership positions across America require stability. CEOs, community leaders, cabinet members need time to establish momentum. They should be selected very carefully, and then placed in position for a significant period of time. Successful corporations and organizations have senior leaders that have been in position for many years, in some cases decades.
It really is about time management for building effective organizations. Generally, senior leaders should spend the first 25% of their tenure building their team, establishing policies and procures, and putting systems in place. They should spend the next 50% of their time in the position in the execution phase, focused on getting things done. And then, for the good of the organization, they should spend the last 25% of their time preparing to transition well.
Case in point is the recent “resignation“ of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The Department of Defense requires stable leadership. The very fact that there has been 3 Secretaries of Defense in the past 6 years, with a 4th one on the horizon, should cause us all to pause. We as a Nation cannot afford unnecessary turbulence at this critical position. Several things must be considered to get a SecDef in place for the long haul that will help keep our Nation secure in these difficult times.
First off, remember that disagreement doesn’t mean disloyalty. After a very careful selection and confirmation process, it is imperative to allow the Secretary of Defense to do the job for which he was selected. In some cases he will have diverging thoughts and ideas, but they must be considered. He has a staff of thousands of dedicated professional that give him great insights. He must have open access to the President and the rest of the National Security Team. He cannot have his recommendations filtered by a staff that may have other agendas in mind. His thoughts and ideas must be carefully listened to and considered. Lines of communication must remain open. He must be given clear guidance and direction based on what is right for America. He cannot be micromanaged. Have trust and confidence in him that he will do the right things, for the right reasons.
I was taught many years ago to ask three questions as a senior leader: (1) Are we doing the right things? (2) Are we doing things right?, and (3) What are we missing? Select the right person for the job, and then allow him to focus on these three questions. Our nation deserves nothing less.