The beginning of President Obama’s second term seems an appropriate time to look at what makes a winning top team. Four years ago, he conceived of his Cabinet as a “team of rivals,” taking his inspiration from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling biography of Abraham Lincoln. Just as Lincoln appointed former rivals for the presidency to his Cabinet in 1860, Obama appointed former Democratic presidential competitor Hillary Clinton as his first Secretary of State. In 2008 he toldTime magazine, “I don’t want to have people who just agree with me. I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone.”
By contrast, Obama’s second-term appointments thus far appear to place an emphasis on personal familiarity and extensive interaction, as suggested by his replacement choices to head the State, Treasury and Defense Departments. All three appointees — John Kerry, Jack Lew and Chuck Hagel, respectively — are trusted allies.
An advisor to Fortune 100 executives and world-class institutions for more than twenty years, Dr. Susan Battley is an internationally recognized expert on CEO and leadership effectiveness. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional service firms, and elite research institutions. She has worked with chief executives, university presidents, Nobel laureates, and prominent scientists, diplomats, and educators. A respected media source for analyzing leadership in the context of news-breaking events and key trends, Battley has been featured in outlets worldwide including CNN, CNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chief Executive, Business Week, United Press International, Harvard Management Update, Entrepreneur, Science, Leader to Leader, Investments, and Worth. She is the founder and CEO of Battley Performance Consulting, a leadership strategy and organization effectiveness consultancy.