Leader or Politician?
Leader or politician?
During a stop in Cincinnati, Ohio on the way to a conference, I visited the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Taft was the 27th President of the United States from 1909-1913 and regarded by the American Political Science Assocation as an average president.
While President Taft could have done more to effectively manage his political stakeholders, he did excel in other areas of leadership including:
President Taft had a clear set of values with which he was aligned in words and deed. He also had a clear standard around which he evaluated right and wrong. In leadership, this is a way to foster trust. In the case of President Taft, he had some vocal political opponents who had a different set of values and standards that later won out.
President Taft had a belief that stability was best achieved through diplomacy versus conflict, peace over war, and operated from this belief. This is accomplished by seeking to find a win for each party. Leaders operating in this way often build loyal followers and allies, generating more collaborative and creative solutions as a result. Some of his political opponents were more interested in war without concern only for their own needs and desires.
President Taft, rated in the upper third of presidents for administration, excelled at building, organizing and developing a leadership team. He demonstrated this in standing up an independent government in the Philippines.
President Taft was adept at optimizing how things were done to maximize value, increase efficiency, with proper checks and balances to mitigate abuse of power. As Chief Justice, he restructured the Supreme Court and reduced the backlog.
And the list goes on. All of these qualities are characteristic of high performing leaders. And in most organizations, they would lead to just that, high performance.
In the case of President Taft, one might say he was a better leader than he was a politician. Admittedly, he preferred his final role as Chief Justice to that of President. He had this self-awareness about himself and in the end, honored his gifts and talents by putting them to work in the Judiciary.
Image by Political Graveyard
Passionate about growing amazing leaders who create great places to work and lead fulfilling lives, Angela enables transformational change in individuals, teams, and businesses. As a Certified Professional Coach, she is skilled at combining sound coaching skills with proven leadership methodologies to cultivate growth and ultimately, results.