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Should a C.E.O. Be President?

The principle of presidential campaigns run by Ross Perot, Steve Forbes and now Herman Cain is that politics are broken and only a business leader can repair them. True?

What’s the Latest Development?

Herman Cain’s rise in the polls has been explained, in part, by his status as a Washington outsider who, as a past CEO, has the management skills, financial acumen and decisiveness to get the country going again. Cain is the former head of Godfather’s Pizza. But is the skill set of a successful CEO suited to the office of the presidency? No, says Jonathan Cowan. Presidents must build consensus across divide, communicate effectively with a plurality of interests and cede control to different government branches. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Building consensus across party lines is not a skill that CEOs necessarily have. When a business leader creates consensus, he or she does so from within a company where each individual wants the business to succeed. And unlike CEOs, the President has little brand control, making communication an exercise in tolerance. Business leaders, on the other had, always have a direct line of communication to their employees. Finally, CEOs enjoy the ability to decide the direction of their company while democracy depends on sharing power. 


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