Overscheduling and Withholding Bad News – Key Weapons of the Senior Staff

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the honor of working for two presidents, several cabinet members and many other high-profile politicians. I noticed that the senior staff usually has two main weapons to control the top guy: the first is overscheduling, sending him or her around the country to pointless events. Since many politicians look for instant gratification, they don’t object, even if it is completely exhausting. When the campaign heats up, the principal would typically first lose his or her voice, and then get sick a bit later. The other weapon is to withhold (bad) news, in particular headlines and survey numbers. In my coaching and consulting, I try to combat both. Presidents, cabinet members, lawmakers and governors should not be like lions hunting mice but rather focus on the big things. They should behave like lions hunting antelopes. It takes time to think, read and reach strategic decisions. In other words, it takes time to govern. As for the bad news, I have a simple rule: If you’re a prospect, I might just politely nod through our conversation even if I think you’re completely on the wrong track. As a consultant, my job is not to win any random argument, but to improve my client’s condition. So if you’re a client, on the other hand, I will tell you the brutal truth if needed – and then make proactive recommendations on how to move forward.

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