Which Presidential or Vice Presidential Hopeful Would Make the Best Leader?
Over the past several days, the editors of AskTheManager.com released their leadership ratings and rankings of all forty-two US Presidents from Washington to Bush. We examined how these men would perform as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company by using what we believe are some of the most important leadership characteristics: humility; delegation; integrity; vision; success (during their term); and (impact on) future (generations).
(To see our first article, ranking the Presidents from Worst to First, follow this link. To read the detailed comments showing why we ranked each President where we did, please follow this link. If you’re interested on how each President scored in the six weighted categories, please follow this link.)
As we grow closer to the November 4, 2008 Presidential Election, the real question for America is where would Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden or Sarah Palin rank on this list? With the current economic climate and uncertain foreign affairs, it’s clear we need a leader. Because of this, it becomes more and more important each day for Americans to ask hard questions about their candidate of choice.
Where would your candidate or their running mate rank in terms of business leadership in the new millennium? Could he or she successfully run a large corporation today? Do they have what it takes to be a true leader or are they more concerned about themselves and their legacy?
More importantly, will their decisions be sound and founded on unwavering principles, or will they constantly be swayed by the winds of political expediency and public opinion?
Running the United States and running a large, for-profit corporation have more similarities than differences. Because this is a website dedicated to developing business leaders, we needed to know who would we choose to run our company if we had our pick of the four candidates vying for President and Vice President.
The Rankings – Worst to First
4. Joseph Biden
A single allegation of plagiarism could be partisan politics gone awry. More than one, and we start to see a pattern. While we really like Joe Biden, we cannot help but be put off by his alleged lack of integrity and the appearance of political machinations. Similar to McCain in that he’s served many years in leadership roles in the Senate, Biden is no maverick and tows the party line to a fault. Of the four Presidential and Vice Presidential hopefuls left in the race, Joe Biden is clearly the least qualified leader. His score of 67.5 (see the category ratings below) would put him well below average at number 31 on the all time list.
3. Barack Obama
We’re always worried when we see a potential leader who wants nothing more than to be in charge. Often they will say or do anything to get the job. Once there, they find they lack the necessary skill set to truly lead. While Obama clearly has the most vision of this foursome, we’re concerned that an Obama Presidency will not lay the proper groundwork for future success. We do believe his integrity is greater than that of John McCain, but he’s still no Lincoln. With a score of 77.5, Obama would rank as an above average Presidential Leader.
2. Sarah Palin
A total and complete surprise when selected as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party just last week, there is little we really know about Sarah Palin. What we do know and what we’ve heard, we actually like. Palin clearly does not tow the party line. Even more so than McCain, Palin is a true maverick. Her decisions seem to be based on what is best for her constituents and she seems unafraid to make enemies in Washington – something America has needed for the last two decades. Her perceived lack of humility hurts her, though on our list Palin would still rank as the 24th best Presidential Leader of all time (just behind another leader without humility – Theodore Roosevelt).
1. John McCain
The most humble leader of the four, we believe McCain will also do the best job at delegating responsibilities (not completely unlike Ronald Reagan). What we like best about McCain is that most in his party would prefer to have someone else to vote for – he does not tow the party line (despite what the Obama commercials say). Of course, he is not without blemish, and the alleged backroom dealings around the Central Arizona Project and Charles Keating make us question his integrity. That said, with a score of 82.5, John McCain would rank as the 20th best Presidential Leader of all time (just behind James Madison).
How Did They Rate?
To determine the final rankings, we graded each Presidential and Vice Presidential hopeful in six weighted categories (below), awarding a score of 1 to 10 in each category. A score of 10 indicates this candidate shows true and complete leadership in a particular skill set.
Humility (H) – Great leaders today avoid the spotlight (unless it benefits their company), give credit to their subordinates, and generally drive their businesses through character and vision rather than ego and pride. We considered the amount of unhealthy ego and overbearing pride in each of the four hopefuls to determine the grade in this category.
Delegation (D) – No one person can do it all, that’s why great leaders are also great at delegation. They thrive on allowing others to make decisions, and they empower nearly everyone through their words and their actions. We graded each candidate on what we believe is their ability to let go and leave some of the duties to their staff.
Integrity (I) – Great leaders are principled, and they adhere to a strict moral and ethical code. They exude character because of their honest, forthright nature; and they never put themselves above the needs of their team or company. Our assessment and category grades are based on each candidate’s record with respect to character and honesty.
Vision (V) – True leaders have the ability to see beyond the current reality and project an ideal future. They not only create a vision, but they share it, live it and carry it out. We analyzed each candidate’s ability to share their vision, though we have no idea on which ones can truly execute and which ones are just blowing hot air.
Success (S) – Great leaders don’t just make everyone feel good, they also execute (i.e., they get the job done). Proper execution leads to success, and great leaders understand this. We graded each of the candidates on their level of success enjoyed during their previous and current positions.
Future (F) – When a great leader departs a company, they leave it in better shape than when they arrived. Additionally, because they were driven with an eye on the longer term, the decisions they made during their time in the position continue to have a positive impact into the future. Our assessment of the candidates includes a grade for how we feel their decisions would impact future generations.
We were careful to ignore the popularity of these four, and attempted to judge them solely on the traits that we feel make a good leader. Will they have the ability to execute? Do they possess the necessary honor; intelligence; character; and, most of all, service required to lead the free world? Are any of them capable of true leadership, or will they be just popular pawns of their party?
It’s important to note that these rankings are based on how these Presidential and Vice Presidential hopefuls and their decisions would impact a Fortune 500 company. Of course, we know that the task at hand for the next President will prove much more difficult than taking over a large, troubled company.
The question every voter needs to ask themselves is this: Is my candidate up to the task?