My Diary – More on Hank, on Leadership and on Lessons Learned

Ok this is FREAKY!I am up early, again, and what is at the top of me email list but this piece from a WEBSITE I subscribed to ( and recommended to you all ) yesterday – Causes: Hank Paulson. ( from Baseline Scenerio) I am just recovering from reading the comments written from the piece I wrote called Dear Hank for the HuffingtonPost, and here is a piece of writing that now compels me to write more on the subject. It is a great piece….

I said in the letter I wrote that I know Hank Paulson to be a good man. When I worked for him I found him honest and hard-working. At the time he was chosen to be secretary I thought ?? for four reasons. One, he has always HATED public speaking and is not good at it. This was very common knowledge. It was something he worked very hard at and I commend him for trying. Second, his background was in banking and not in capital markets and economics. That was not his strength. Clearly he was smart enough to learn but oh my gosh…. not a time to be learning on the job. Third, I found that Hank had a tendency to surround himself with people who looked and thought liked him. Most leaders, sadly, do this. I did not find him to INVITE people to the table that were different, meaning had different views. Then comes the speaking Truth to Power question. Was he a leader who wanted to hear the bad news? Wanted to hear the threats, the problems, the things that would keep him awake at night? Did he ask people to give it to him straight, always, all the time? Not in my experience, but again, few leaders in my opinion do. Is this not in part what the whole MADOFF thing is about too? At the end of the day where does the buck stop? Where are the people who say, and say loudly, enough is enough! What the heck is going on here?

THIS is part of what has been driving me to act, to write, to speak out. I hope I have been and will continue to be the type of person that speaks TRUTH to POWER. At Goldman it was the senior leadership, now it is to anyone who will listen and to YOU the public. You are Power. You, acting individually and collectively, can make the difference. But I ask you this…. please try to do it respectfully. Yes strongly and with passion, but not in a way that shuts people down do they cannot hear you. I have to work at this, daily, myself. You, we, have to try to talk to people not in ways that sends people running for cover. There are times when fine, let it rip, but know that there are consquences to that. You might feel better, but other then that, did you really accomplish anything? Letting it rip damages relationships not preserves and builds them. Let it rip if you don’t care…

Funny enough that lesson was taught to me by the current GS CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Many. many years ago Lloyd told me that the “trouble with me” was that people knew what I was going to say before I even opened my mouth.’ Ouch. The context for this is that I fought for women at the firm. I fought for them behind closed doors and on podiums. I fought for them and their success because I believed that Goldman would be a better place if the senior leadership was more diverse. Though I thought I was picking my spots he suggested that I was coming to be seen/heard as being only about one thing. Not good. Not effective. Yet the trouble with me was that I felt passionately that if senior leadership was not almost solely White, American Males, the firm would be much better off. The trouble with me was that I felt passionately that if everyone around the table looks and thinks like the leader, then that is a recipe for disaster. Lloyd felt that I was pushing too hard on this and I risked losing credibility. I heard him and tried to modify my approach but not my purpose and intent. I tried to change people and not just run them over with my views.

At the end of the day this is about LEADERSHIP. I continue to believe the best model out there is servant leadership. There are times to claim your authority and stand on mountain tops and tell people the plan and the mission, and there are as many times when you walk with the everyday folk and ask them what they think and how they would do things differently. If you are only at the top of the mountain how is anyone ‘down there’ every going to reach you? In this model you KNOW that you are where you are only by the grace of God and you act like it. You ask questions and don’t pretend to have all the answers. You know you are not better then any one else and that every life has equal value. You know that at the end of the day you will be held accountable for your actions but their is also such a thing as forgivenes. You try, everyday, to be a better person, a better leader, than the one you were the day before.

Was Hank Paulson this type of leader? Was George Bush?

Will President elect Obama be? Will Tim Geithner? ….. time will tell and I pray the answer is yes.

Please consider reading THIS PIECE I wrote a while back – The Trouble With American Is…. and this piece on Diversity and Leadership.

Have a great day!

One thought on “My Diary – More on Hank, on Leadership and on Lessons Learned

  1. You are spot on, Jacki. Authentic leadership exhibits itself as the absence of ego, arrogance, and the need to be right. Here’s to a 2009 filled with true leadership- the application of your talents and gifts in service not to the bottom line, but to the greater good.

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