What You Can Learn From Reagan’s Leadership

What You Can Learn From Reagan’s Leadership

regansigningVeteran Vistage speaker and former number two in the CIA during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency*, Herb Meyer recently spoke to my four Peer Advisory Groups. He is widely credited as having been the first senior official to predict the fall of the Soviet Union. Nearly 30 years later, Herb is still making predictions as well as sharing the leadership lessons he learned.

I was in process of writing a blog about his presentation when I saw that Forbes interviewed him and summarized his key points in “The Next Big Thing From The Official Who Predicted Communism’s Demise”. I recommend that you not only read the article, but also listen to the interview (available via a link in the article).

In addition to the points listed by Forbes, I would like to emphasize Herb’s points about Reagan’s leadership:

The sheer executive competence of Reagan and his team was outstanding. “They started with a goal – ending the Cold War with victory for the Free World — developed a strategy to achieve that goal, worked out tactics to fulfill their strategy, then executed their plan while making whatever course corrections were required as events unfolded. In short, even though the President couldn’t name all 15 members of the Politburo – in truth, he couldn’t name all 10 members of his own Cabinet – he was a superb CEO. (Actually, Reagan was a superb CEO precisely because he didn’t waste his time and energy on details; he focused on setting an objective, bringing on-board a team capable of achieving that objective, then leading the charge.)”

In addition, Reagan knew that he could not accomplish multiple priorities and focused on only one or two. It wasn’t just his intense focus that helped him win the Cold War. Reagan knew that a natural consequence of his intense focus was the backlash about what was not getting done. He willingly accepted the resulting criticism.

As you develop your 2013 plans, I challenge you to prioritize and focus on only 1-2 big goals.
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* Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. Learn more about him at www.stormkingpress.com

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1 thought on “What You Can Learn From Reagan’s Leadership”

  1. Bob Fritz says:

    I agree about Reagan’s leadership skills. But at the time he was running, almost nobody recognized them. He was elected because Jimmy Carter had messed up the economy and the Iranian hostage rescue failure. Reagan just barely won, despite the fact that Carter was perhaps the worst leader ever to be president since Buchanan.

    Reagan had an uncanny ability to connect with the people. I remember listening to his speeches in person when I lived in California and he was governor.

    So what lessons can we draw today? All the Republican cognoscenti thought, a week before the election, that Romney was going to win. But their speeches at their convention came across as “everyone would be free to start a business,” not likely to appeal to the average voter.

    So now we have a Marxist-Leninist (don’t take my word for it–read his own two books). Middle class income is down $4,000 per year, gasoline has doubled, and he gives us free cell phones. We have some maids come to our house. You should hear them complain about the payroll tax increase.

    What to do about this? Mr. Boehner’s leadership does not inspire overwhelming confidence. The Tea Party is napping. Perhaps the appropriate model is Argentina. In 1920 it had the third highest standard of living in the world. Then came Peron. Peron has been dead for 70 years but the hangover continues there. And probably here. Grin and bear it and make your investments in Asia.

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