Executives rarely put those energies into administrative matters because they tend to be judged not by whether their agency is well-run but by whether the policies with which they are identified seem to succeed or fail. Dunlop was judged by the fate of the common-site picketing bill, Blumenthal by the movement of interest rates and the value of the dollar. There are few rewards for being known as a good manager. Thus, to repeat the point with which this chapter began, in politics the maintenance of the executive is different from the maintenance of the organization. Under these circumstances what is surprising is that top government executives spend any time at all on managing their departments.
A few gifted political executives are able to fuse the maintenance of their own position with that of their organization's. Because of their exceptional talents combined with their good fortune in holding office at a time when their political environment is unusually malleable, these individuals manage to make that environment so supportive that in effect it becomes a universal constituency. Hyman Rickover, J. Edgar Hoover, and Robert Moses (the master highway builder of New York) were able to achieve this feat by means set forth in Eugene Lewis's book on public entrepreneurship.41 Their ability to acquire autonomy for their agencies has few parallels: they fashioned around themselves a kind of "apolitical shield"42 that enabled them to advance their programs while running their agencies.
The executives that not only maintain their organizations but transform them do more than merely acquire constituency support; they project a compelling vision of the tasks, culture, and importance of their agencies. The greatest executives infuse their organizations with value and convince others that this value is not merely useful to the bureau but essential to the polity.