What makes a great leader?
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim is a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton where he is a leader in the firm’s global defense business, working with U.S. Combatant Commanders and allied and coalition ministries of defense worldwide.
Former United States government official Dov Zakheim was the Undersecretary of Defense and Comptroller from 2001-2004 in the George W. Bush administration, and was a foreign policy advisor to that administration during the 2000 election campaign. From 1985-1987, during the Regan administration, Zakheim was Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Planning and Resources. An Orthodox Jew, he helped to end the IAI Lavi Israeli fighter program. Previous to his work with the Bush administration, from 1987-2001, Zakheim served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and sat on a number of Defense Department panels, including the Task Force on Defense Reform, in 1997, and the Board of Visitors of Overseas Regional Centers, from 1998-2001. During those years he was also CEO of SPC International, a subsidiary of System Planning Corporation. Zakheim is on the editorial board of The National Interest Journal and has published a multitude of articles and monographs on defense issues. Zakheim earned his BA in government from Columbia University in 1970 and his PhD in economics and politics from St. Antony's College, Oxford University. He was an Adjunct Scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College, where he was also Presidential Scholar. He has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the United States Naval Institute. Zakheim has received many awards for government and community service, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest civilian award.
Dov Zakheim: Leaders tend to be people who react to situations. You can’t go around saying, “I’m a leader.” Nobody would have thought Harry Truman was a leader. In retrospect, we think he is. In fact, at the time, we didn’t think he was. Look how Dwight Eisenhower has been re-evaluated over the years as well. I think a leader, first of all, has to be well-grounded. He has to have a since of him or herself; needs to want something more than, “I want to be a leader. I want to be president.” We’ve had presidents like that – presidents who wanted to be president. Well it’s not good enough. A leader also ought to be a little more than just superficial. And mouthing slogans is great and might get you elected, but it won’t make you a leader. And finally, a leader has to be prepared to make unpopular decisions, and then know when a decision has become so unpopular that he’s gotta reverse himself . . . or herself. The sense of balance . . . You know you can lead the country, but if you lead the country over a cliff and the country doesn’t wanna go over a cliff, then you’ve gotta think twice about going over the cliff yourself.
Recorded on: 7/2/07
Zakheim, on what makes a great president.
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