The Business of Leading -- Bush Style

Article excerpt

As the Bush presidency gets off to a more promising start than most Washington insiders dared imagine, there's a growing recognition that the nation's capital is witnessing a somewhat shocking development.

A month into George W. Bush's White House tenure it has become clear that the executive branch is more corporate than governmental. Some are comparing the new era to the Eisenhower presidency, an analogy with at least some validity. The difference is that Bush took his MBA at Harvard while Ike earned his management pedigree running World War II's victorious European campaign.

Bush has been characterized by the media as "the MBA president," an "organization man" of the `50s gray-flannel-suit persuasion and a Reagan-style delegator. All accurately describe his approach to the job, and all involve attributes characteristically shared by successful corporate chieftains.

James Higgins, an adjunct fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, said Bush's early effort to reach out to his opposition, for example, might have surprised his critics. It was, however, "a very unsurprising step for a CEO who wants to accomplish his goals."

Higgins, who also has a Harvard MBA, said those who dismiss such moves as a mere "charm offensive" don't understand how success is attained by corporate leaders. Those who have succeeded in winning an organization's top job routinely reach out to the defeated factions a CEO will need to help him accomplish his goals, Higgins said in a recent analysis in The Weekly Standard.

Higgins said media coverage tends to miss the essence of what Bush is trying to accomplish because journalists with educational backgrounds in the liberal arts, law or journalism too often equate intelligence with the sort of detail orientation shared by policy wonks. …