As recruiters, consultants and coaches, it is often our role to help people and organizations come to terms with what it is a job, or job title, really means. What the role entails, what behaviors one will engage in day-to-day, what is expected of the role, and of the person in that role. We are in the Job Matching business – connecting the right people to the right job.
It has been interesting over the years to watch people who are in very public, high-profile roles – a lot of their issues are the same as what we all see and experience in our “normal lives”. Arguably there is no one who has had more coverage the last 5-6 years than Barak Obama. And based on that coverage, it seems there is a disconnect in President Obama’s passions, and the man’s actual job. It is not a question of policy or politics, guiding principles or the role of government. Rather, it is about the actual “job of Chief Executive” that President Obama the man now holds. Thus the question, is Barack Obama as President a case of good Job Matching?
First, let us consider the definition of the “job” of President. By definition, a president is “the highest executive officer of a modern republic, the Chief Executive of the United States”. Going a step further, what is a Chief Executive? Typically, the Chief Executive, or more commonly the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) per wiki, “has responsibilities as a communicator, decision maker, leader, and manager. The communicator role can involve the press and the rest of the outside world, as well as the organization’s management and employees; the decision-making role involves high-level decisions about policy and strategy. As a leader, the CEO advises the board of directors, motivates employees, and drives change within the organization. As a manager, the CEO presides over the organization’s day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to year operations.”
Think about two earlier and well covered two-term Presidents, Clinton and Reagan. Clearly they loved the job of being President. Not just for the ego boost and cache, but more importantly for what the job entailed. They were both literally “chief executives”. They had run organizations and lead teams throughout their lives. They were organizational leaders and governors. They literally grew up with a passion to lead people and run organizations. They thrived on the give and take, the relationships, the challenges and the sheer day-to-day operations management. It defined them. You could see it in their history, and you could see it in their behavior while in office – they loved the job.
When one looks at the history, experience, and even the behaviors of President Obama, that passion for the job of a chief executive just does not seem to be there. Now the office, the trappings, the pulpit and stage; clearly he loves it. I am quite confident both Reagan and Clinton did as well. However, the sheer day-to-day operations management, the constant leadership challenges, all of the relationships, constituencies, competing issues and demands, the never-ending string of mundane, gut wrenching, and extremely difficult decisions one must make – it just does not appear to be what he loves.
If I were invited to the Rose Garden for a beer, I would ask President Obama the man what it is he loves. What is it he is passionate about? What fires him? Above all else, I would ask him what it is he loves to do every day – not by title but by behavior. I will go out on a limb and bet that his answer does not involve the day-to-day behaviors demanded of a chief executive.
There in lies the issue – you have to love what the job entails, not what the job is titled. And in the interest of being helpful, might I be so bold as to propose a solution…Statesman. There is no question President Obama the man loves to strategize, plan, talk through things, noodle on problems, and above all propose great ideas, visions, and goals. That is the role of a true Statesman – be above the fray, propose bold ideas, have great, sweeping vision and share that vision. Now that job, the day-to-day behaviors of being a Statesman seem to really fit Barak Obama the person – it captures his passion, his history, and frankly what he was clearly great at. Look at his campaign – he was in his element; he thrived and was wildly successful; he love that job.
Regardless of the job, its level or scope, it all comes down to Job Matching. Does the demands of the job match the passions and talents of the person. Think about it when you are hiring, and even when you are interviewing. When hiring, you owe it to the interviewees and the organization to really determine what the job is, and if the job is right for the candidates. And when interviewing, strip away the titles, the corner office, the compensation, the cache and ask the simple but very hard question – what is it the job demands on a day-to-day basis? What really has to be done by behavior, day in and day out? Sometimes the job you have, and maybe even the job you thought you wanted, is not really the right job for you.
If President Obama ever does call me for a beer in the Rose Garden, or anywhere, I would jump at the invitation. Until then, call it a pro bono consultation. Mr. President, it might be worth considering the idea of making the decision to change jobs next year. You seem to be much more of a Statesman than a Chief Executive. In the end sir, you have to make the call – not your advisors, and not the public. Only you know what really is right for you. It is the same for all of us…just not as public.