by Craig Ricks
Widener University Class of 2012
Editor’s Note: In the following series of posts students will discuss Mitt Romney’s leadership qualities based on Fred Greenstein’s The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney is just months away from officially being announced as the Republican presidential nominee. If he were to win the election in November, what type of president and how effective would he be? Based on Fred I. Greenstein’s characteristics outlined in The Presidential Difference, Romney’s potential can be evaluated.
Greenstein’s first quality is a president’s public communication skills. Romney is a very elegant public speaker, which he can use to his advantage. He carries with him a spirited sense of confidence and seems to know what to say at any given moment. To his disadvantage, however, is the fact that he often has trouble relating to people of the middle and lower classes. If he can find a way to better relate to these members of society, he will have no weakness in the public arena. The second key presidential quality is organizational capacity. When the 2002 Winter Olympics were in jeopardy of being moved from Salt Lake City, Utah, Romney was appointed to take over control of the reigns. Facing a steep budget deficit for the games, Romney managed to turn the program around. He changed the leadership and policies of the organization, reduced the budget, and increased fund raising. His ability to take a damaged program in jeopardy of relocation and turn it around perfectly displays his organizational capacity.
The third and fourth qualities for a successful leader are the president’s political skill and his ability to use that skill to achieve his vision. While Romney is an above average political operator, as displayed by his ability to lobby Congress for funds for the 2002 Winter Olympics, he lacks a real vision. Throughout his political career, Romney has flip-flopped on policies because it was the best political move. If he had a true vision, he would stick to the same policy, but try to convince others that his ideas were for the betterment of everyone. One example of Romney holding a contradictory position is with respect to universal health care. As governor of Massachusetts, he set up a universal program for the state; he also opposed President Obama’s universal plan for the country. His argument was that it was right for his state, but it is not the right move at the national level.
The fifth quality is the cognitive style of the president. Romney is a very intelligent person, and should be able to use this to weigh any information and ideas given to him. He displayed his superb cognitive abilities in handling the 2002 Winter Olympics situation. Along with his organizational skills, this should prove to be Romney’s greatest strength. The president’s emotional intelligence is Greenstein’s final quality to assess presidential leadership. Romney appears to be below average in this category, however. As mentioned previously, he has trouble communicating and relating to the middle and lower class, on both a fiscal and emotional level.
Like each of the president’s Greenstein studied, Romney displays strengths in some of these qualities and weaknesses in others. If he can use his strengths to compensate in other areas he is lacking, he will be able to lead the country successfully, if he is elected. However, if he allows his weaknesses to get the better of him, his possible presidency could be tarnished.