President Obama is understandably defensive about the criticism he is receiving about the Gulf oil disaster. News clips recently show him explaining that he was in the Gulf making “tough talk” and finding out whose ass needed to be kicked (really).
All leaders feel the heat whether the problems they face were caused by them or someone else. That is the nature of leadership. Bush took the heat for how his administration responded to Hurricane Katrina. Obama is taking the heat for the Gulf.
As much as tough talk is appreciated, people want results. Talking tough, placing blame or even taking responsibility mean little until the problem is solved or the situation is resolved.
The title of a book written by my friend Randy Pennington says it all: “Results Rule.”
There are many lessons for leaders here, but primary is this: don’t let the heat in the kitchen prevent you from cooking the meal. Deal with the heat. Ignore it if you can. If you can’t, address it. Just don’t let it distract you from bringing your compete attention and resources to bear on the goal.
There will be time for dealing with those who caused one of the greatest natural disasters of our time, but right now Americans want results and solutions. Not tough talk and ass kicking.
An effective leader has to get past ass kicking to problem fixing.