White House Chiefs of Staff & WWII Tactics


“One must be a good butcher,” said William Gladstone, who served as Great Britain’s Prime Minister in the late 1800s. Eisenhower’s chief of staff, Sherman Adams, was known as The Abominable “No” Man.

And President Trump’s new Chief of Staff, four-star Marine General John Kelly, is taking fire for cutting off access to the Oval Office. For saying, “No.”

He’s also drawn attention for vetting all the materials and proposals that reach the President’s desk. That may make him unpopular, but every president needs this if he’s going to get anything done.

Business guru Peter Drucker wrote that this information-refining process. “[A leader’s] most important role,” he noted, “is to say no to proposals … that are not completely … worked out.”

General Kelly’s management style has been honed through a lifetime military career. Will it make the White House more effective?

Read the entire article: https://stream.org/white-house-chief-of-staff-john-kelly-tactic-won-wwii/

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6 Responses

  1. Jack Yoest says:

    This article is required reading for my students at The Catholic University of America

  2. It is interesting to read about the tactics that lead to a good outcome. One of the main tactics is having the power and courage to say no. saying no to someone most importantly a political staff that has to execute an agenda has to be something tricky if you don’t have courage. Being a successful leader is having the ability to say no when it has to be said and be the bearer of news even if they’re bad. Something that’s mentioned in the article was how Marine General John Kelly, who was President Trump’s chief of staff. Was known for vetting all proposals and materials that reach the president’s desk. The thing is that he did this because he was doing what had to be done. He was saying not all of these materials and proposals even if it made him look bad, but the sole reason was that this is what every president needs if he wants his agenda to be executed and get all of it done.

  3. Amanda Johnson says:

    I found several points throughout this article to be really interesting. One of the most interesting though was the story at the end about the staff of former president, George H.W. Bush. The Philippines were about to face an uprising from the rebels within the country against the presidential palace. The United States caught wind of this news and began to think of how to take action. The Chief of Staff at the time, John Sununu, deliberated with the National Security Advisor and ultimately made a decision about what they thought would be a best plan of action. All that was left to be done was wake the president up and receive his approval. This is a perfect example of what Completed Staff Work should look like. The staff should go to the manager with a final product and just allow him to decide, yes or no. The President did not have to think of any details or rework a drafted plan. It was completed and straight to the point. When work gets done in this manner, organizations are most efficient. It enables the manager to have the time to do their job well, which is to make decisions. If the staff came to President Bush with a plan which was only partially thought out, it would have put a lot more on his plate and taken a lot more time. Instead, they were able to take action quickly and effectively.

  4. Dominic Decker says:

    This article is great to read in helping with the understanding of Completed Staff Work. Moreover, for Completed Staff Work to be successful, there always needs to be a person who is communicating with the boss. With this, communication has to be honest. There always has to be the person who either tells the boss what they need to hear (positive or negative) or the person that says no. “One must be a good butcher”, is a quote that significantly stuck out to me that describes this communication. A good butcher cuts away what’s unnecessary and gets to the good stuff. President Trump’s new Chief of Staff, Marine General John Kelly, is a great example of that communication. Being able to cut out what is unnecessary and get to the important facts and details allows for effective decision-making. This also allows for a building of trust and confidence. When leaders can say no and tell the truth, trust and confidence are established between leaders and staff. Trust allows for leaders to build relationships, which is an extremely important part of management. Relationships allow people to anticipate what needs to be done. Anticipation is the key to completed staff work.

  5. Emily Lynn says:

    Being able to confidently turn down a proposal is a very important skill for leaders to have. I found it interesting that it was nearly controversial for General John Kelly to vet proposals. When it comes to a role as important as the President, there should be some mid-point person who is ensuring that everything in the proposal is done correctly, as to make the President’s job easier, and to ensure that the work completed was conducive to his agenda. In business, there usually is not this mid-point who will edit and vet work before handing it off to the manager. By practicing Completed Staff Work, staffers can take on this role themselves. Everything that is submitted to the boss should be complete and ready to be signed off on, so having someone else check your work would not be necessary. But, in a larger organization, like the federal government, this role is extremely important to staying on task and assuring that everything is going according to agenda. In a smaller company, the team should hold the same spirit as the Chief of Staff, and hold one another accountable to make sure that the work being given to the manager is complete and correct.

  6. Mohammad Alajmi says:

    One of the best things about the article is that it emphasizes the need to take advice from the subordinate staffs working with the leadership as allies who have shared beliefs and goals for the whole organization. Consultation with the people who have the same mission is good to propose and implement a large number of ideas. Everyone from the team must participate and contribute individually through his or her individual knowledge and not rely on other team members to complete their part. When everyone contributes for the good of the whole team, more work gets done. Taking advice, warnings, and views of subordinate staff members brings innovation and improves decision making at the leadership level.
    Leaders must have a group of people with them who have the same beliefs and goals because there are multiple things going on at one time and one person cannot manage or focus on all of them at one time. For example, the President does not have time to read the proposals or documents which are incomplete or casually written for no solid purpose and he must meet the deadlines set to complete tasks. In order to complete multiple and various tasks in an efficient way, he must give a direction in which to move and show a shared vision of success to the followers or subordinate staff members and rely on them for doing their job. A good team comprises of good individual members each one of which has the competency and capacity to complete tasks and contribute in the team in the form of continuous improvement and growth.

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