July 20, 2019

The One Qualification Our Next President Must Have

“The Democrats running for president have an abundance of interesting ideas, some good and some bad, about how to make our country a better place. The proposals include providing universal health care, lowering the cost of higher education, fixing our national infrastructure, reforming immigration laws, changing tax policies, and more. Ideas are great, especially aspirational ones that demonstrate the nuts and bolts of a policy agenda that also gives a vision for the country’s future.

Great presidents, in almost all cases, have had a vision for the future of America and ideas that motivate and inspire the American people. But ideas aren’t enough. As we have learned, absolutely nothing can be accomplished or turn ideas into policy by working it through the system without management expertise, knowledge of how the different federal government branches operate, and the ability to put together a high performance team to actually get things done.

I know from my own experience. When I moved from being a Kansas congressman to being Secretary of Agriculture in the 1990s there was a steep learning curve. I went from managing a congressional office of 20 to 30 staff to managing an agency with nearly 100,000 employees. I realized right away that I couldn’t be effective in getting anything done without understanding the nuance and complexity of the programs we were administering, and developing a team of high performance career and noncareer professionals was my ticket to gaining that knowledge.”

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