Don't Let Tillerson and Cohn's Departures Get You Down


President Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of the most successful CEOs of his era, and his economics adviser Gary Cohn, former president and COO of Goldman Sachs, may have just resigned, but that doesn't mean Trump's well is dry.

In fact, for all the qualities Trump exhibits, one of the most redeeming is his ability to tap into the expertise of private-sector business leaders.

As Samuel Abrams describes, more business leaders in government is an advantage for the nation's citizenry.

CEOs have to respond to public opinion, customers, investors, shareholders, and board members. They have to find and nurture the talent in their employee base that enables innovation. CEOs work on countless levels in their firm to develop consensus and buy-ins for their ideas and initiatives. Moreover, these leaders regularly worry about talent development and employee retention in addition to having to meet numerous outside demands, be it from powerful agents in business and in the media, markets, funders, legal constraints, ethical norms, and governmental regulation and oversight.

Business leaders are accustomed to dealing with the complexities of incentives, market forces, budgeting, board accountability, and other variables that impact large movements of goods and services.

Great business leaders delegate to managers, adapt to changing circumstances, and rely on the advice of others to find solutions.

Some Americans view business leaders as dictatorial or worse, conspiratorial, in how they run their enterprises, but most of the time that's actually far from the case.

Both presidents and CEOs have to regularly make tough decisions that could have significant impacts on innovation, safety, and the health and well-being of employees, clients or citizens. These decisions are rarely embraced by all, and CEOs and presidents alike are regularly and inevitably criticized. But it is truly surprising to think that one would realistically argue that dictatorial tendencies are common among business and political leaders in the free world. ...

[Americans] should also embrace the idea of a business executive coming into a position of leadership in the public sector. While the current occupant of the Oval Office may be upsetting to many, US post-war governmental bureaucracy has ballooned, and being president in America has become increasingly a managerial role in addition to a political one.

While it's important that business leaders who enter government resist the temptation of "crony capitalism" — manipulating the levers of government to benefit favored corporations — more members of the business community in positions of government is a reasonable tool for effectuating valuable changes in the Executive Branch.

Do you think business leaders can effectively serve in the public sector?