Michael Lewis scored a journalistic coup with the recent publication of the article “Obama’s Way” in Vanity Fair. For six months, Lewis was granted almost unlimited access to the President. He “hung around” Mr. Obama in the White House, aboard Air Force One, on the basketball court and even in the president’s favorite private place, the Truman Balcony, which faces the South Lawn of the White House.
As a student of leadership, the most fascinating factoid in the piece for me was President Obama’s reflections on decision-making. To begin with, both Lewis and Obama agree that if there is a central task of the presidency, it is making decisions. “Putting it the way George W. Bush did sounds silly, but he was right: The president is a decider.” From the moment the president wakes up in the morning, and often when an emergency causes him to be awoken in the middle of the night, decisions are thrust upon him. Some of these decisions are pre-scheduled or planned in advance. For example, cabinet meetings to decide on this or that policy or legislative act.