When President-elect Barack Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, he did what a senior executive does when choosing an assistant: He selected a person who would help him get things done.
Though Emanuel has a reputation for being brash and abrasive, he is also skilled at driving things forward—an important quality for a leader’s right-hand man.
Are you like Rahm Emanuel?
• Do you guard your boss’s most precious resource: his time? The chief of staff controls the president’s schedule, whom he sees and when he sees him. By granting or denying access, the chief of staff actually has enormous influence over outcomes.
• Do you know how to play the heavy in service of the cause? Emanuel is good at cracking the whip and cutting through bureaucracy, which allows the president to stand above the fray, stay focused on the big picture and complete initiatives on time and on schedule.
• Do you tell the boss what’s really going on? Leaders worry about what they don’t know. Wise chiefs of staff keep their ears to the ground, so they can alert the leader to things he needs to hear. A gutsy chief of staff can also tell the boss when the boss is wrong and serves his organization well by doing so.
• Do you sublimate your to a higher cause? Emanuel was the fourth-highest ranking Democratic congressman who was in line to become Speaker, assuming the Democrats held serve. He sacrificed his personal ambition for the opportunity to help Obama lead.
— Adapted from “Do You Have a Rahm Emanuel on Your Staff?” John Baldoni, Leadership at Work blog.
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