Boone Pickens this morning had it right: Weak leadership is at the core of the current financial crises. But what does that mean? How could it be different? Although no one factor is involved, a key characteristic of leadership, especially during a crises, is the ability to communicate well. I feel badly for Paulson. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he’s an intelligent man caught in a vice of conflicting interests. He has the credentials and the brains to understand what is going on as well as anyone in financial markets. What he doesn’t have is strong communication abilities. At the greatest moment of his life, he couldn’t get the job done.
He did at least three things yesterday that hurt himself and us;
because this financial implosion hurts us all. The things he screwed up, communication wise, are really simple, yet a man as powerful and prominent as Henry Paulson did not ever learn them. I worked with Goldman Sachs many years ago. Paulson is a Goldman alum. I understand the culture well. Goldman employees and executives have a hard time with communication. This is not their strength. They are like scientists, just the facts, ma’m. They have a hard time remembering humanity is a greater sum than facts. When I worked with Goldman years ago, they struggled with the concepts of communication they were learning, even resisted, until a couple of people tried what I recommended. Then they came back to say, “My God! This works.” If Paulson knew what I was teaching those guys, the chances are much stronger that we would have had the bill passed yesterday.
To Paulson’s credit, he did at least two major things that were right.
Like most of you, I have a business and clients to attend to, and I can’t spend hours in front of the TV listening to everything happening right now on The Hill. Still, even I caught these basic things. Did you? Would you know what to do if you were caught in a serious crises with the television cameras on you?
So really this post isn’t about me “telling” anybody any thing. It’s about you deciding. Can you define what Paulson is doing that is working and what he’s doing that’s not?
Post note: Learn from the problem Bush currently faces. When you cry wolf or mislead people about something as serious as a war, and then have a difficult problem where you need support, do not expect people to believe you. Trust matters…. And as for Nancy Pelosi, all I can say is, “Shut up.”