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Voters should consider a good business leader for president

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Despite our current political turbulence, American voters should still consider a business executive as a choice for their next president. President Trump has, so far, tarnished the reputation of business experience in public service, but good business skills are about sound leadership, which is consistent with good politics and a quality that is badly needed in American government.

Good business leaders should be considered for elected office because the business world can be a remarkable platform to build skills and excel. Executives deal with issues of taxation and culture. They deal with issues of budgets and constituencies. They deal with labor and employment, health care, regulation and the economy. Business executives have to sell their product, they have to be able communicators, and they have to be knowledgeable about world affairs and curious about global problems. The very best business leaders also treat their employees with respect.

{mosads}Earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey finished her inspiring speech at the Golden Globes by exclaiming, “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! When that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women…and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”

It was a speech by a person whom many respect and admire not only for what she represents, but how successful she has been in her life, including running a substantial business empire. She embodies the American ideal of hard work and persistence paying off big. Immediately there was speculation that she might run for president in 2020. The reason she and other business executives are so well regarded is because of their example of executive leadership in the business world. In the White House, just like the boardroom, those skills can be put to use on behalf of the nation.

Of course, being a successful business executive does not necessarily mean one can be a good political leader. But good business skills, effective leadership, understanding team building, and running a sizable organization effectively can be excellent criteria to be a good president. Just because President Trump has not demonstrated all those skills should not be a disincentive for others with those talents to enter the arena.

I recognize that political skills are not always identical with those a CEO needs to have, and of course, a CEO does not have to deal with Congress or with the constraints on executive power by constitutional law. But the principles of good political leadership are embodied by many of the nation’s best business leaders.

There are many to consider beyond Oprah, of course. Two I have worked with come to mind in particular. Bob Iger of Disney has great business, interpersonal and political skills. Terry Duffy of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has the knowledge and executive leadership abilities to make a great politician. Many others fit that bill, because having at least some business experience can be an asset for a president.

It is the silly season for political campaigns now, and names for 2020 being thrown around consist of everyone from Howard Schultz of Starbucks to pop star Katy Perry. While some choices might be fair to dismiss such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, others like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, or former mayor Michael Bloomberg deserve our attention and our serious consideration.

We can’t let Trump’s presidency dismiss the notion that business executives can be good presidents. Disruptions in every industry are chaotic and uncomfortable and politics should be no exception. Trump created both for the American voter. But it doesn’t mean that America wasn’t on to something. It just means they put the wrong example of it in the White House. American executives have a lot to offer. We only need a good one to run for office.

Dan Glickman served as U.S. secretary of agriculture under President Clinton and represented Kansas in Congress for 18 years. He is now vice president of the Aspen Institute. Follow him on Twitter @DanRGlickman.

Tags Business campaign Donald Trump Oprah Winfrey President White House

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