Monday, March 08, 2010


Dear Mr. President, Love and Kisses from UVA

It is little wonder that Bank of America had so many problems if the Bank of America Professor in the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia – in the guise of Thomas Bateman - is an example of how they waste their shareholders' money.

Transformational leader: Obama has the skills, but will he deploy them on key issues? - Thomas S. Bateman

Professor Bateman sees great possibilities out of our President even though – as he is forced to admit throughout - there really hasn’t been much to see.

As a college professor, he is, of course, duty-bound to get in the obligatory slam at George W. Bush:

“Transactional leaders use authority, rewards, and punishments to get people to comply. George W. Bush applied these all tactics.”

Ahh but our hero:

“Transformational leaders have high aspirations and stimulate innovation. President Obama deserves credit for addressing big problems -- health care in particular -- that others have punted, but he has made strategic and tactical errors along the way.”

Unfortunately, it turns out that a particularly large "strategic and tactical' error was that the President didn’t really address the big problem:

“…he was not an engaged leader on an enormous, complex issue that needed his personal involvement.”


“He also failed to use the powers of his office to line up supporting votes”

In other words, unlike the mere “transactional” guy that preceded him, he didn’t “use authority, rewards, and punishments to get people to comply.” But, don't despair, there’s real hope for our guy in the White House:

“One of the most important things transformational leaders do is to intellectually stimulate others -- both adversaries and supporters -- with the leader's ideas.”

As support for this, he notes that “despite some charges of dawdling over Afghanistan, Robert Gates and others credit him with thoroughness and thoughtfulness as he challenged others to think harder about the options and their consequences.”

…and we all know how tough it is to garner public favorable praise from the people who work for you.

That’s not all, though; the professor also quotes that noted NYT cynic David Brooks:

"The man really knows how to lead a discussion... he picked out the core point in any comment...”

Who knew that’s where our crisis in leadership was?

“This kind of intellectual stimulation is a trademark of transformational leaders.”

Gee, I hope I’m not being too much of a Negative Ned here but that display of so-called transformational leadership resulted in exactly ZERO defections from the Republican side while so far having no apparent effect on the ongoing trickle away from his side of the argument. Yet despite the object of his obvious man-crush not having shown any sustained semblance of leadership in his adult life, Professor Bateman remains optimistic:

“Is President Obama a transformational leader? Not yet in terms of overall impact, but there's hope, for the country's sake, that the answer may turn to yes.”

Actually, for our country’s sake – that’s awfully pessimistic.

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