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A Former Chief of Staff Reflects A long serving politician with a reputation for getting things done and telling it like it is, Leon Panetta has had what stores sell kate spade handbags a distinguished public service career.
A lawyer by training, he joined the US Army in 1964, entered politics two years later, and represented California's 16th (now 17th) district in the US House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993. He is best known for having served as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff from 1994 to 1997. Today, he is the director of the Leon Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a not for profit, nonpartisan center located on the central coast of California birthplace. Recently, Panetta sat down with McKinsey's Lenny Mendonca and Allen Webb to share his views on how to make things work in the public sector, how to develop strong leaders, the importance of private sector involvement, and the challenges confronting the US government. Leon Panetta: I have often said that my Army experience was a great deal more important than any government experience. In the military, I saw that you need someone at the top who is capable of running a strong organization: establishing a chain of command, maintaining a list of priorities, and making sure that everyone is working toward the same goals. All managers have to be aware of their priorities the president of the United States. The bully pulpit isn't worth much if you don't have a kate spade saturday website clear sense of mission. I used that principle of mission knowing your goals and collaborating to achieve them I became chief of staff. The situation was pretty confused; there was no organizational chart of the White House. If you had a meeting, 30 people would show up because nobody told anyone else that they didn't belong. The result was chaos. My first task was to establish a clear chain of command, responsibility, and discipline. The critical element I used on a daily basis was a series of staff meetings. One, held early in the morning, involved key people in top jobs at the White House. We looked at issues, discussed our mission for the day, and anticipated problems and crises. The exercise was to share advice and make sure every member of this group knew what was going on and where we were headed. Then I ran a larger staff meeting to involve everybody else. Those meetings were extremely important for getting input and spotting problems. The Quarterly: How did you strike the right balance between responding to short term challenges and tackling the administration's longer term priorities? Leon Panetta: One of the decisions I made early on was that we could not be reactive. When I came into the White House, schedules were operating almost day to day a couple of weeks in advance at most. We established a six week schedule to look ahead to everything that needed to get done and developed a focus for that schedule. Was education going to be a priority? Health care? Crime? Were there foreign policy trips that needed to be planned? Basically, we wanted to handle all this ahead of time because we knew crises would always emerge that we would have to deal with. The idea was never to lose sight of the fundamental mission. The Quarterly: How similar different you think management principles are between the public and private sectors? Leon Panetta: I'm sure the sense is that these are two different worlds. But I think the fundamental principles a strong organization, operating with a list of priorities, and creating a coordinated team effort very much the same. You see these basic principles much more in the private sector because in the public sector, the profit motive isn't there driving people to figure out the most effective ways to get things done. So in the public sector, the way these principles are implemented ends up depending an kate spade k awful lot on who's in charge. Too often, public sector bosses let their people get into a grind where they do the same things day in and day out. They're moving paper from the in box to the out box, without a larger sense of mission and priorities. Sometimes they prefer to operate in their particular program or area of expertise and just stay under the radar, because they know that the more they communicate, the more they will be subject to other people's discipline and intervention. One of the great temptations in government is to let everybody do their own thing and disappear into their own area and to think it's all fine as long as nothing unfortunate happens or no scandal emerges. But the job of department heads and supervisors is to make sure nobody operates under the radar. You need very strong supervisors to keep people from losing their ability to relate to the larger mission. The Quarterly: What can senior executives in government do to develop strong leaders and supervisors? Leon Panetta: I think the most important way to inspire leadership, whether in government or in the corporate world, is to give people the opportunity to say what they want and then to pay attention to what they say. You have to reward people for being honest and talking straight. Too often, I have been part of leadership groups where nobody likes to tell the boss what's really happening if the boss is the president of the United States and the news is bad. But having people around who are willing to say what they believe is invaluable. Similarly, you have to support people willing to take measured risks. Finally, it's important to lead by example and be willing to work hard. You won't develop leadership if you just punch in and punch out. The Quarterly: What role do you see for the private sector in addressing major societal challenges? Leon Panetta: Business leaders underestimate their ability to influence policy. I know they feel they can affect policy by giving money and holding fund raisers for people running in campaigns. But the effect is even more significant when a group of business leaders comes together and champions a particular cause. When I was chair of the budget committee, a group of executives came in and said that it was really important to discipline the federal budget in order to reduce the deficit. They came forward and presented some ideas, and it was apparent they really cared about the issue. That made a difference. We also saw this level of engagement when ten major corporations, including BP, were concerned about establishing some control on carbon emissions. They felt that this was a really important issue and collaborated to present a strong case for it. kate spade cyber monday 2016 That had more impact on policy on this issue in Washington than almost anything else. Policy makers pay attention when business leaders are willing to engage as a group. You see a lot more going on today in the private sector with regard to these types of issues. The reality is that if companies aren't on the cutting edge of dealing with challenges like global warming or education or the impact of energy issues, it's going to affect their business. If government is not taking responsibility, the private sector should. But the best approach, in our democracy, is to have strong public partnerships, because even if the private sector can make some gains, it still requires government support to implement broad policy changes. An example of a partnership would be providing incentives for R so that the private sector can engage in cutting edge technology: the Internet, telecommunications, and so on. The Quarterly: The United States is heading into a change of administrations. What are the big management issues that the new president will have to face? Leon Panetta: The big challenge is going to be selecting a team of qualified people who are good managers as well. The president is going to be coming off a successful campaign, and so his natural instinct will be to rely on campaign people to assist during the transition. That's probably the biggest mistake. Taking over the government involves operating in a completely different sphere. The problem is that gearing up at the federal level takes six months to a year.
No president has his entire team in place right after the inauguration. What's imperative is to develop the key team of players who can assist the president with issues that he will have to deal with immediately, so things don't fall apart. The responsibility then will be to backfill over the next year: organize the cabinet, find the right people to head departments and agencies, fill subcabinet positions, and so on.
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