Politics: VA scandal: No accountability from an inept, disinterested leader

Image Credit: Published by: Herman Cain on Thursday May 29th, 2014

Don't bother him with the challenges of leadership.
If you’re wondering why President Obama can only respond to the horrors at the Veterans’ Administration (having heard about them on the news) with declarations that he is “madder than hell” but no resolve to fire anyone or otherwise hold anyone accountable, I can tell you one reason:
He has no idea how to manage anything, nor does he know how to create a management structure that will work. And this was obvious five years ago.
Back in 2009, when the Obama Administration was still taking shape, I looked at the structure President Obama was putting together and recognized instantly it would be an executive management nightmare. In my syndicated column at the time, I explained:
Thirty-four czars plus 15 cabinet heads plus six cabinet-status positions plus 13 entities in the Executive Office of the President equals 69 direct reports. This does not include the vice president or the 25 administrative offices in the White House, which for the sake of national security we hope would not require much of the president’s attention. We hope.
Some members of Congress are correctly questioning the constitutionality of all these czars. Others are questioning their real purpose, while others are questioning the legitimacy of the costs to the taxpayers. While I share those concerns, I question the ability of the president or any human to effectively manage the already huge responsibilities of the presidency, and an additional layer of bureaucracy.
This is based on my 40-year career in various leadership and management roles in organizations that were large, small, for profit, not for profit, private and publicly held. And by the way, I’ve published two books on leadership based on my experiences.
Traditionally, the cabinet heads have provided advice and guidance to the president, while also being administrators of their respective departments. They have now been effectively reduced to just administrators, with the exception of Defense, so far. Some of them may be part of the president’s inner circle, but since the czars outnumber the cabinet heads two to one, you make the call.
The czars are effectively the intimidators. They have no formally defined authority, so their only muscle is the implied force of the president’s “bully pulpit”.
Even with a more traditional span of control (seven to 10) in many organizations, inter-departmental differences of opinions are common. The president has increased the likelihood of such differences by a factor of nearly 10.
Obama came into office with no executive management experience of any kind. Almost no one he appointed to his administration had any experience in the business sector. And it shows. It has worked out exactly as I suspected it would.
It’s entirely possible that Obama was lying when he claimed he knew nothing about the IRS power abuse, nothing about the problems with HealthCare.gov, nothing about the phony wait lists at the VA. But it’s just as plausible, and no less an indictment of him as a leader, that he didn’t know because he wasn’t paying attention.
Even the most competent CEO in the world can’t hold 69 direct reports accountable. It can’t be done. I’d say seven to 10 direct reports is the most even a superstar executive can reasonably keep tabs on. For most, three or four is about the limit.
But I don’t think Obama appointed all those people and made them answerable to him with the idea of actually making them answer to him. Nothing in his track record as president suggests that he manages his people with that level of attentiveness.
When news of the bogus wait lists at the VA hit last week, Obama press secretary Jay Carney claimed that Obama heard about it on the news just like the rest of us, and that he was “madder than hell.” Sure. We’ve since learned that the Obama transition team was told about this problem back in 2008.
So did Obama really know about it, only to lie and claim he didn’t in order to avoid being held responsible? Or did he “learn about it on the news” as he claims? Here is a third possibility: He was told about it in 2008, but he forgot about it because it wasn’t that important to him. What Obama cares about is expanding the size and scope of the tax and regulatory state so as to make more people dependent on government and aid the Democrat Party politically. Managing this exploding government with any level of competence is for others in the executive branch to worry about. It only concerns Obama when something goes wrong and it becomes a political problem for him.
Some of us saw this coming when a guy with no executive leadership experience sought the hardest leadership position in the world. And we really saw it coming when he put together an executive structure impossible for even the most competent leader to manage.
But beyond all that, you can tell by observing Obama that his idea of leadership is to give speeches, and that his idea of positive results is winning elections. In other words, it’s all about him, and a problem for veterans only gets his attention when it becomes a problem for him.
That’s why there is no accountability in the Obama White House. Of course, the nation missed its chance to hold Obama accountable for this ineptness. Hopefully we will learn our lesson before we elect another pretender who claims to be a leader but has never done anything to justify that claim.