“Dare the Impossible – Achieve the Extraordinary.“
Recent Linked Articles by Dr. Cohen not Published in the Journal of Leadership Applications:
There is no such Thing as an Irrational Customer from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Drucker’s Five Deadly Marketing Sins from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Do the Right Thing at the Right Time from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Exploiting Demographic Change in Your Organization from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Drucker’s Billion Dollar Reality Test from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Marketing and Selling May Be Adversarial from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Success by Abandoning Success from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Doing the Right Thing is More Powerful Than You May Think from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Why What You Thought about Heroic Leadership is Probably Wrong from Integral Leadership Review
Uncovering Drucker’s Most Valuable Lesson from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Getting Things Done in Government
© 2012 William A. Cohen, PhD
This is such an important lesson, and from a couple of world class leaders, that I put it in several of my books, including The Stuff of Heroes and more recently,Heroic Leadership. It begins with a story about one of my most accomplished West Point classmates, Frederic V. Malek. Fred Malek saw combat while in Vietnam in 1961 while a regular infantry lieutenant attached to the First Special Forces Group advising Vietnamese Ranger companies. After his return from battle he left the Army, and put himself through the Harvard Business School. If you think that sales, even door-to-door s selling is beneath you, you might consider that Fred got himself through this expensive school by selling encyclopedias. Then, soon after graduation, he immediately applied the knowledge gained and rescued a failing company in South Carolina. As a result he became a multimillionaire by the age of thirty.
President Nixon recruited him for Washington duty and he served as Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Special Assistant to the President, and finally Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Then, he left government and joined the Marriott Corporation becoming in succession, President of the Marriott Hotels, President of Northwest Airlines, and Chairman of Thayer/Hidden Creek, a private equity firm specializing in the lower middle market leveraged buyouts. Along the way, he helped the elder President Bush serving in senior positions in both of his presidential campaigns. Few have accomplished so much, or made so many contributions in so many fields applying what he learned in combat and at one of our nation’s foremost business schools.
But let’s look in on Fred as he served in the Administration in Washington back in 1973. Fred had a problem. Appointed to the important position of Deputy Director of OMB, Fred was extremely frustrated. He couldn’t get things done very quickly because of layers of career bureaucrats who occupied many key positions. Fortunately he spotted a White House Fellow who was an army major and fellow combat veteran who seemed to know what he was doing. His name was Colin Powell and he is the other world class leader who is a protagonist in my story. Fred made Powell his Executive Assistant. I’ll let General Powell pick up the story from his book, My American Journey.
“Fred went about gaining control of the government in a way that opened the eyes of this fledgling student of power. . . . Fred started planting his own people in the key ‘assistant secretary for administration’ slots in major federal agencies. Let the cabinet officials make the speeches, cut the ribbons, and appear on Meet the Press. Anonymous assistant secretaries, loyal to Malek, would run operations day to day, and to the Nixon administration’s liking. . . . I learned much in Professor Malek’s graduate seminar.”
However as I said previously, bureaucrats already occupied many positions in OMB, and the budget couldn’t be increased for more positions for the smart young Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton graduates Fred wanted to bring in. So, he applied an indirection influence tactic, and he did so in a very creative way. On Fred’s instruction, later Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell wrote: “. . . I started phoning agency officials, explaining that I was calling on behalf of Mr. Malek with good news. Their power was about to be broadened. A function currently being handled by OMB was going to be transferred to their agency . . . music to any bureaucrat’s ear.”
While the happy bureaucrat listened, Powell would go on to explain that the agency would get the function and the bodies, but not the funding. “‘We don’t have jobs for them. We haven’t budgeted funds for them.’ ‘Mr. Assistant Secretary,’ I would say, ‘Fred Malek has every confidence that between attrition and some imagination on your part, you will work something out.’ Soon the unwanted OMB bureaucrats were gone, their offices and titles freed up, and Malek’s young “chargers” moved in. Out of that experience emerged one of my rules: you don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”
General Powell later put this rule, an excellent example of getting what you want using the indirection influence tactic with someone over
whom you have little authority, to very good use.
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THIS MONTH’S THOUGHT FOR LEADERS
Direct pressure always tends to harden and consolidate the resistance of an opponent.
– Sir Basil H. Liddel-Hart