Your Opportunity, Mr. President

Vinita Gupta-

Vinita Gupta

Vinita Gupta is a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and was the first Indian-American woman to take her company public. Since retiring, she has propelled herself through her journalism, mentoring women entrepreneurs and playing competitive bridge at the highest levels. She has won several National titles in bridge.


Our Expectations from Biden’s Leadership…

I voted for President Biden.

However, watching the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I was surprised by the superficial media-coverage, painting Biden as a savior.

In technology companies, people who are on CEO search committees cross their fingers and hope their selected candidate will work out. The process is imperfect, and there are no guarantees.  The same applies to a newly elected president.

Believing that the country’s political leader will be a messiah of peace, who will heal the country, was not in his job description, and is a fallacy.  Not that we do not value these characteristics, but they will speak through his actions and not through the inaugural address.

Reputable news media like WSJ and NYTimes, and major TV channels do not seem to have a good enough yardstick for measuring leadership.

The impact of media on our thinking continues to be overly influential and powerful, generating extremism. Over the last four years, CNN for example, amplified anti-Trump rhetorics while Fox News was squarely in the pro-Trump camp, etching deeper divide between Democratic and Republican factions.

Instead of relying on what we hear and read; we could apply our own experiences and instincts, to evaluate.  Democracy functions the best when people are independent thinkers.

We have pressing issues to deal with.

The job of this president is to deal with the pandemic and its devastating impact on our economy.  Other urgent areas to address are healthcare and education.  Joe Biden has the political capital to take bold actions on all of these fronts.

Biden-Harris partnership can do wonders, like how Hewlett-Packard, Gates-Balmer, and Jobs-Wozniak built their companies.  Close partnerships can be difficult but they help make higher quality decisions and are worth investing time in.  Since Biden has had the courage to select a strong woman, Kamala Harris as his vice president, he should delegate other important responsibilities to her. Through his cabinet appointees, Ms. Harris can lead the charge for the task force on immigration reforms, climate change, and foreign relations, IMHO.

Washington should also focus on efficiencies and getting more done. Our vice president should not just be a standby-president, for example. The VP should be expected to pitch in, work hard, and guide and even lead the president when necessary.  I hope Vice President Harris is capable of it.

Plus, creating white space in his own calendar can help him sharpen his focus.  “It simply creates the “space” for a new idea to present itself” — a powerful tool seldom used.

Another area of leverage could be, how he collaborates with the private sector.  The trust and engagement of corporate leaders with the administration can give our country further boost in the arm.  He can police their monopolistic practices while getting them involved in creating new platforms and data analytic tools for healthcare delivery in the future and high-quality education. By doing this, President Biden can help create new-age jobs that will restore and rebuild the economy.

As the saying goes, “Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.”  This belief means listening to both Republicans and Democrats.  We are only limited by our experiences, interests, and blind spots.  Leadership is about making people work together harmoniously.  I hope he will embrace this idea.

The media has mocked Mr. Bidden for stumbling on words.  The media should be able to get past that and learn from Wall Street analysts.  The analysts advise stock traders on what company-stocks to buy and sell.  They do so by assessing the management of the company by regularly communicating with them and writing reports on their findings.  When a new CEO gets hired and money is on the line, they look beyond slick appearance or eloquence.  They tend to be very perceptive.

Hi-Tech corporate culture in America has continued to evolve yielding higher and higher profits. The informality of dress code, flexible working hours, and trusting employees with unlimited vacation policy, have resulted in increased productivity.

Companies’ management is not afraid to reach across the hierarchal boundaries. With a progressive culture, we can get more things done and a new image of politics can evolve getting the millennials engaged in public life.  They want to contribute where they are trusted, and where their ideas are not rejected for lack of experience.  The generational crossover will reshape American politics.

In my experience Biden’s leadership success will entail judiciously assembling a team and delegating to them, preferring action over perfection,  and engaging the best minds by reaching across the party lines, public-private sector, and geographic boundaries.

When will the culture change in Washington happen?

Here is your opportunity Mr. Biden — and Ms. Harris.