Leaders Manage the Unknown

The New York Times is hopelessly old fashioned, still practicing fact-based investigative reporting and all.

Today’s lead article, He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus, was the work of six people.

Unfortunately, we live in an age when only the liberal “choir” will read it, which is too bad, because it’s incredibly restrained.

For example, this is not politicizing the pandemic.

“There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.”

“Ask deeper questions,” when has Trump done that?

I listened to Scott Galloway interview Tim Armstrong on his podcast this week. Galloway asked him about leadership during crises. Armstrong talked about interviewing many top executives during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. He summarized their insights this way, “Managers manage the known and leaders manage the unknown.”

The President has not managed the known well and has shown no aptitude for the unknown. Governors, mayors, business leaders, epidemiologists, selfless healthcare workers, and other “essential” people have filled the void brilliantly, managing the known extremely well against all odds.

Armstrong was talking about commercial enterprises, but what about noncommercial ones? What about the common good? Who will manage 21st century unknowns related to public health, environmental degradation, and global poverty?

 

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