Disaster Zone

Leadership Changes: When to Make Them

Using Rex Tillerson as an example.

by Eric Holdeman / March 13, 2018

Fun reading for me is a book on leadership. Fun while driving is listening to the radio and getting the latest news. Fun while walking is listening to podcasts on the political gamesmanship going on in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the nation.

Thus the news today of Rex Tillerson being ousted got me thinking about, "When do you make a leadership change?"  Not everyone has the power and ability to hire and fire at will like the president of the United States, but changes still can be made.

It has appeared to me that Secretary Tillerson and the president were not on the same page on any number of international issues. However, it has been Tillerson who has spent the most time working the North Korea issue with our international partners. Now, with potential direct talks between the two antagonistic leaders — North Korea and the United States — was this the best time to send the Secretary of State packing? The other dynamic in play is that we don't have an ambassador to South Korea.  Entering these negotiations we have a lack of relationships being in place.

Emergency management is all about relationships, and I think that international diplomacy shares the need to have relationships in place before there can ever be trust established between two governments.  

Getting the right people in the right positions is important, but what about the impact to the CIA with the leadership change being made there? At least there is a career CIA officer taking the helm, which should provide some stability. However, for a president who demands loyalty above all else and one that has had an antagonistic relationship with the intelligence community, I'm not sure I would like being caught in the middle between my leader and the organization I lead. I suppose one could "gut it out" for a year, then leave the agency for a consulting job in Washington that will pay dearly for you being on their team.  

It is important to remember we are not playing a Game of Thrones board game. This is real life with real consequences — like tariffs.