Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Leadership Lessons: The Pursuit of Osama bin Laden

Perhaps not since President John F. Kennedy stared down the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960's has a United States President been so clearly in charge and purposeful (at a time when perhaps his political career was so on the ropes).  

In successfully pursuing and eliminating Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama displayed and has continued to display an inspiring level of leadership that has earned the respect of this country and our allies abroad.  President Obama has established a strong legacy and has solidified his stance as a respected leader here and throughout the world. His place in history is now safe. He is the leader that we hoped for and expected when we elected him.  He took his role as Commander-in-Chief seriously and took responsibility when it was most needed.  

So, what did he do?  What leadership model does he leave for us to follow?

  • Vision:   Single-minded Pursuit of a Desired Outcome
  • Responsibility and Accountability for Doing the Right Thing
  • Patience
  • Tenacity
  • Perseverance
It took 10 years for us to find bin Laden.  We could have failed in our mission had we struck too soon or at the wrong place or without proper preparation.  We also could have struck in such a way that could have been questioned for years, particularly if we had been left with no proof of bin Laden's death.    
  • Dealing with Ambiguity
  • Calculated Risk Taking
  • Failure not an Option
President Obama could not be assured of success, however, he moved forward when he needed to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.  He was particularly vulnerable to attacks from political opponents.  
  • Courage in the Face of Criticism
  • Willingness to Accept the Consequences
President Obama used all the resources at his disposal:  strategic thinkers and experienced advisors; and deployed the right tactical strike team of the highest level of competence to achieve his goal.
  • Full Use of Intelligence and Best Information Available
  • Due Diligence
  • Realistic Cost/Benefits Analysis
  • Careful Planning
  • Delegating To Those with the Right Skills
President Obama has made good decisions that have been hailed around the world as being culturally and politically sensitive when the wrong moves would have been costly, moving us backwards in the fight against terrorism and damaged our reputation with allies.  His mishandling of Osama bin Laden's remains could have been disastrous.    
  • Sense of Humanity, Respect and Humility
Again, I applaud President Obama and thank all the people that were involved in this critical mission.  Congratulations.  We appreciate what you have done and what you have left us as a model for leadership. 
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