– Ram Charan is the author several book, including “Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times.” A noted expert on business strategy, Charan has coached CEOs and helped companies like GE, Bank of America, Verizon, KLM, and Thomson shape and implement their strategic direction. The opinions expressed are his own. –
The first 100 days demand that President Barack Obama sort out his priorities and choose the ones that will help solve many others. With many constituencies and direct reports clamoring for his time and attention, he cannot attend to them all. He has to decide which of the many complex and urgent issues that have accumulated must be resolved first.
The new president will inevitably be pushed to spend a huge amount of time on foreign policy. But I suggest that the president’s top priority should be to get the nation out of this economic and psychological funk. He has selected some very capable people who will help sort out the economic mess. He made a brilliant move to have Paul Volcker in the White House.
But ensuring that various parts of the U.S. economy work together and with the rest of the global economy will take a significant amount of President Obama’s personal time and leadership. I have seen in my work with corporations that the best leaders are hands-on when it comes to making sure their top people coordinate their efforts. The new president will have to do the same with the secretary of Treasury, Federal Reserve chair, SEC chair, and other relevant government leaders. Each of these experts sees the situation through the lens of his or her expertise.
The president must ensure that their perspectives are integrated. He must provide the oversight to ensure that they communicate frequently and resolve any conflicts that arise to create cogent, urgent solutions to get the economy going.