Phone Icon

Jim Now

School For Presidents: The Lessons Continue

The Job Gets Tougher Every Single Day

Lessons #16 thru #20

By: James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus, America’s Crisis Guru®


The only school for presidents to learn how to be president is living and working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as president.

Ironically this is also true for most CEO positions. It’s a job that, however smart you think you are, you learn on the job every single day. Even the most experienced executive will tell you that first day you get those three letters after your name CEO, often your first reaction is,” what do I do now?” The same holds true for high political office, especially the highest political office.

The day’s agenda is set by the telephone. Distractions often dominate ( In the current case mostly self-inflicted.). Various truths do emerge. Bad news, handled badly, ripens badly. There’s nothing worse than a wounded political enemy. They simply lie in wait to bring you down at every opportunity. Winning can be very costly. Sometimes it better to let the other guy win. Speedy action beats smart thinking every time. Apology is the atomic energy of relationship repair. Shedding a tear occasionally is good for the soul and your friends. VP Hubert Humphrey, who was orations always wound up with tears streaming down his face, when criticized once commented that,” a man without a tear is a man without a heart.”

If you want a really serious taste of what happens daily in the president’s office, the closest example is watching episodes of West Wing, now available on Netflix.

And so our lessons for new presidents continues:

Lesson 16        The Power of The President Is Really Quite Limited.

The president and the rest of us are learning graphically that government cannot be run like a business, all the vacuous promoting of this concept notwithstanding. It is a callous myth. Limitations on the president’s authority, span of control, and credibility increase from day one.

Lesson 17        Inauguration is the Institutional Trigger to Begin Learning How To Control And Defeat New Leadership.

The moment a new leader arrives the most powerful imperative of bureaucracy kicks in: preserving how things are and were.  Institutional survival (more than 200 years) is a given. Everyone else is a temporary visitor on the stage. The institution, not to mention his adopted party is defeating the president everywhere. The time to figure all this out is rapidly evaporating.

Lesson 18        Most People Employed by The Federal Government Believe They Work for The People Of The United States Rather Than The Occupant of The White House.         

New presidents, especially this one believe, at first, that everyone works for them. Makes for very frustrating, tension filled, contentious days. The way to take control of the government is to promptly fill the hundreds, perhaps thousands of key vacancies that presidents directly appoint. Our new president is way behind and may not care. Crucial leadership leverage is lost through delay, denial and distraction.

Lesson 19        Governments Don’t/Can’t Run Like Businesses and Businesses Don’t Run Like Governments.

One of the current president’s business approach is to have as few employees as possible yet produce award-winning vote getting work. Government employees rarely work for rewards. Their’s is a life of service and often of sacrifice. This strategy wins awards, profits and promotions in the private sector. In Government, this approach guarantees a powerful, resistant, obstructive bureaucracy. “You’re Fired” doesn’t build ratings in Government it builds fear and resistance even among loyalists.

Lesson 20        Incivility Breeds Incivility or Worse. Once Unleashed the Damage Can’t Be Taken Back.

  • Surprisingly bullying victimizes primarily by using words as weapons much more powerful than violent behavior or force. The scars are permanent but invisible. Incivility is using words that abuse, accuse, agitate, assault, belittle, blame, bully, create fear, damage, deceive, demean, deny, dismiss, embarrass, harass, humiliate, insult, irritate, lie, shame, surprise badly, or are callous, careless, deceptive or sarcastic. These words and behaviors are the tools of incivility. When used by leaders the consequences accumulate and can be terrible.
  • Bullies, and abusive behavior succeed when good and honorable people especially those in positions of power, leadership and high public esteem say and do nothing or worse appear to admire, applaud or be entertained. The American media has very successfully commercialized incivility by relentlessly repeating the damaging language, continuously revictimizing the tormented while remaining silent, refusing or too afraid to use their power to expose and stop the assaults. The money is just too good.
  • The Ultimate lesson of the presidency: Getting bills passed whatever their level of popularity. Laws change the game. All the rest is political window-dressing. The current incumbent isn’t the first president to stall out on legislation. And it is still quite early in the Trump years. President Kennedy died in the third year of his first term. His legacy is attributed to other significant presidential actions and Camelot.

Learn More About Jim Here or Book Jim To Speak At Your Next Event Here!

© Copyright 2020 jim lukaszewski • a shelton interactive site