Community & Government

Look Over the Horizon

George W. Bush

Lesson time 11:08 min

President Bush defines what a leader’s job is—and what it is not. In this lesson, he outlines his view that a leader sets the vision and leaves implementation to trusted team members.

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Topics include: President Bush defines what a leader’s job entails and what it does not. In this lesson, he outlines this view that a leader set the vision, and leaves implementation to trusted members of his team.


[MUSIC PLAYING] - The key thing for a chief executive, no matter what organization, is to project a vision. What is it you want to accomplish? And how do you get there? In the political arena, the chief executive job is to look over the horizon. And the chief executive is the only person doing that, because the legislative branch is reactive. They tend to have two year horizons. What do I need to get re-elected? And that's healthy, because it means there's checks and balances. But the chief executive has got to be bold within reason, and daring in application. If one sees a problem looming, it's essential for the chief executive to figure out how to deal with that, as opposed to shirking that duty. Oftentimes, in politics, and maybe sometimes in the corporate world, if there's a looming problem, some people say, we'll leave it to the next person. And to me, that's a sign of a failed leader. Leaders prioritize what's important. Leaders set an agenda. Agendas don't get set by consensus oftentimes. If you're leading a corporation, or leading an entity, it's up to you as the leader. Now obviously, you've got to consult with advisors, board of directors, key personnel whose judgment you trust. But ultimately, a leader leads. It's difficult in politics sometimes, because there's a lot of competing pressures. And occasionally, the editorials in my case weren't all that positive, and therefore, people say, oh no, the editorial this, the editorial that. And you know, I didn't give a damn about the editorials, because I cared about the big picture, what I was trying to achieve. And that's the beauty of democracy, because during campaigns, you articulate the big picture, and you articulate the priorities you intend to set. And it's important to follow through on those. [MUSIC PLAYING] In order to be effective, you got to delegate. And delegating to me was very natural. For example, in the Rangers, you know my partners and I would set the budget, but we would delegate the player selection to the general manager and the scouts, the people who knew what they were talking about. And I don't think we ever walked in and said, go sign you know, Babe Ruth. He'll make our team a lot better. We delegated properly. We obviously paid attention to it, but we trusted the people we had hired. The interesting thing about the presidency is there's a lot of issues that take place at the same time. And it's important to think about that and not get mired in details where you can't think big picture. The danger with many CEOs is micromanagement. I'm going to decide the gym privileges that are now available for our team. But as a leader, dealing with that kind of minutia takes one's mind off of the big picture. And one of the real challenges in leading an organization is to keep the big picture in mind. [MUSIC PLAYING] How do you set clear goals? How do you have a clear mission statement? Managers need to spend a lot of tim...

About the Instructor

Step inside the Oval Office with the newest instructor in our White House series, President George W. Bush. With insight from former First Lady Laura Bush, the former commander in chief opens up about the tough calls and life lessons that shaped his career. Develop and own a leadership style that’s true to you and learn to lead by connecting personally with everyone in the room.

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George W. Bush

Learn to listen and inspire a culture of teamwork. The 43rd U.S. president teaches leadership skills from his career and opens up about painting.

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