After all, at the first suggestion that your budget will be cut, what do you do? You rant and rave about the dire consequences of slashing your budget even one penny. You moan and groan about how what you do is so much more important than what others do.
Then, when your budget actually is cut, what do you do? You go into a deep funk, and stew about the unfairness of life.
And then what do you do? You suck it up, and you do the best you can.
After all, you’re an executive. You execute. You manage with what you have. And you get those who report to you to manage with what they have. Or you get rid of them.
Good leaders get themselves and their organizations through the cycle of ranting and moaning and deep funking and into executing as quickly as possible. The best leaders don’t even let the early parts of the cycle show – as far as anyone can tell, they get straight to the executing, and do the best they can for their organization with the resources they have.
So no matter how dumb the cuts of the recent sequester are, the mark of whether President Obama is a good leader is how well he now gets his administration to handle the budget cuts. How the next year plays out is up to him. Will he make showy cuts to emphasize the stupidity of the sequester that both parties agreed to? Or will he minimize the impact of the cuts on what he considers our nation’s most pressing needs?
(Whether others agree with what are the most pressing needs is an entirely different topic. The issue now is how President Obama deals with his priorities within the constraints of the dollars he has available to him.)
By most measures, the President is not off to a good start. His ranting and moaning and funking were out there for the world to see. And, in a snit, he cut White House tours, which, while not essential to the functioning of government, were a program popular with his customers.
No question we should feel sorry for President Obama, who has to move himself toward executing with everyone watching and offering advice. Everyone has an opinion on which of his budget line items he should cut. The Friday, March 8, 2013, editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal offered no less than three pieces that detailed suggestions of how to manage sequestration in various agencies – “Jumping the Sequester,” by columnist Kim Strassel, “The Drama Over, Time For Smart Budget Cuts,” by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), and an editorial entitled “Obama’s Not So Grand Offer.” News stories through the weekend on radio, television and in print continued to offer opinions.
But the mark of a good executive is how well he or she executes in hard times.
What will we think a year from now?