Fri, July 19, 2024

Mondays with Rick: Fight over Speaker of the House creates crisis in leadership

Dr. Rick Franza, Professor of Management at the Hull College of Business, discusses a different, timely business topic each Monday in this column. This week, he discusses the leadership crisis in the U.S. House of Representatives. The interview has been edited for clarity and impact.

ABD: Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House. What impact does that have on Americans?

Rick: When you have a void of leadership in one area of the government, it’s hard to get things done. If we wanted to support Israel, as most of us do, it’d be hard for Congress to act. And until you have a new Speaker, it increases the chance of a government shutdown that we thought we’d avoided.

The continuing resolution (CR) is good until about Nov. 15 and I would have expected that immediately after the CR that they’d be working on the budgets. But they can’t fully work on it because of that void in leadership.

ABD: The issue, or at least one of them, is that McCarthy had promised to work on the 12 budgets individually, instead of presenting them as one giant omnibus bill – but that’s what ended up being presented. Should he have been held accountable for that?

Rick: I think there’s a negotiation issue, but everyone wants to win and have the other side lose, instead of going for a win-win. I don’t think the hard-right Republicans are that far wrong, but you can’t just make a change with the flip of a switch.

I understand fights about principles, but you must find a way to do what’s best for the country. McCarthy tried to do that by giving more time to work on the 12 budgets. I’m a little hard-pressed to call it a failure of leadership. Whether it was personal, or they were trying to win seats or other positions, it got in the way of governing. The Democrats voted for chaos instead of a solution, so they have no interest in governing, either.

ABD: Some people have noted that there are several factions within the Republican party and that it would be good for them to all stick together to wield the power of their majority. But isn’t it good to have independent thinkers?

Rick: Yes, but independent thinkers have a problem here. They’re saying they’re going to make this principled fight, but they must be realistic, too. There’s absolutely a place for that – you don’t want groupthink. But everybody must be willing to make concessions.

They have power, but only to gunk up the works. They’re really holding the country hostage.

The House of Representatives voted on Oct. 3 to remove Kevin McCarthy, pictured above the headline, as the Speaker of the House, creating a void in leadership. (Photo via Wikimedia)

ABD: It still looks as if different factions still prefer different people to be the new Speaker. Is there a way they could negotiate to get a choice acceptable to all?

Rick: I’m a big believer that you sit down with all the parties and show all your cards, so you can work on a solution. But that presents a sort of prisoner dilemma – it’s all well and good if everyone else acts that way, too.

Getting the Speaker is just the first step; then, you have to work on the budget. A shutdown will cause issues.

ABD: Is there anything that businesses can learn about leadership from this situation?

Rick: A lot of what you learn from politics is what not to do. You can be principled, but when you draw a line in the sand, you can’t go back. It really comes down to that you shouldn’t negotiate in public.

For businesses, it’s instructive to get people who line up with your company culture. In Congress, you don’t get to choose who you’ll work with, but in business, you can. You don’t want groupthink – only insecure leaders want that – but you want people who are all rowing in the same direction. It’s important to have the right people in your organization. That’s the advantage you have over Congress.

If you’re a small business owner, what’s best for your company is what’s best for you. Are you in it for just you or do you want to make the company better? It’s important to get all constituents’ input rather than it being my way or the highway.

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