Harvard University professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich made some interesting comments on CNN International today. Reich was being interviewed about the vacuum and need for political and financial leadership in 2009. He made the comment that there are two very important ingredients for good leadership in times of crisis. There is the need to communicate and inspire confidence. And there is the need for crystal clear communication about what the problem is and what the problem is not.
I think Reich has some really good insight. When there is a crisis–in any setting–there is always a loss of confidence among those you lead. There is uncertainty. There is doubt and often confusion. There is also the tendency to lose sight of what is most important at the moment. It is easy to become distracted by the immediate and miss the important. And THE problem at hand must be clearly identified and attacked. That usually requires a lot of wisdom, maturity and sound counsel.
It will be interesting to see what Barak Obama can do this year once he is inaugurated. It will also be interesting to see what other world leaders will do to in the midst of our current crises. But inspiring confidence and clearly identifying the problem are critical pieces of what is needed!