Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Faculty Spotlight: Richard Holtzman



The success of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership(HIPL) is built on the credentials of our Bryant University faculty. This month, we highlight the contributions on Distinguished Scholar, Professor Richard Holtzman.

Professor Holtzman has been an associate professor of political science at Bryant University since 2006. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. A published author, he is an expert in the areas of the American Presidency, Politics of Government and Business, and Presidential Rhetoric. An avid news reader, Professor Holtzman was attracted to politics because it is the center for the current problems and solutions faced by our society. He enjoys working with the HIPL because it gives him a hand on opportunity to work with public officials who drive the news and impact our quality of life. In addition, Professor Holtzman enjoys collaborating with the Hassenfeld Scholars such as Professors Segovis, Coakley, Roberto and Tebaldi because it gives him an opportunity to look at issues from different perspectives.

Speaking on the topic of HIPL's Leadership Competency Model "Transitioning from Campaigning to Governing", Professor Holtzman emphasized that, once elected, public officials need to build a new relationship with their constituents. He believes there is a fundamental difference between campaigning and governing communications, campaigning is more straightforward and direct, whereas governing is more complex and interactive. He states that during governing, public officials need to engage all of their constituents and teach them about difficult issues. 

An expert in political rhetoric, Professor Holtzman argues that a leader should help people make sense of situations that are beneficial to both the leader and the constituents and frame issues correctly. For example, one can’t simply say,  “I want to cut taxes”, one needs to create a narrative that tells people what the issue means, why it matters, and how it applies to them. 

There are personal qualities that create good leaders. Professor Holtzman states, “There are skills that can be acquired and refined by practices”. Qualities such as being able to persuade, bargain, communicate, and being able to listen are important for effective leadership. One thing Professor Holtzman especially enjoys about the institute is that, “the HIPL has no formula for saying this is how you become a good leader… but the underlying philosophy that justifies the existence of the institute is that there are best practices out there, there are better ways and there are cases we can read to see where someone made the most of a situation or blew it. 

There are benefits of talking about leadership and seeing what other people have to say about leadership… therefore, we can help teach people how to be a better leader or how to better understand themselves as leaders and figure out what positives they have or what weaknesses they have and therefore, how to correctly compensate for those”.



THREE LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP, COMPLIMENTS OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY


Richard Holtzman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science

My research on the modern American presidency has taught me some important lessons about leadership—lessons that would seem to be obvious, but are too often overlooked in our daily practice. The best empirical-based scholarship on the presidency offers important lessons for leaders of all sorts, whether you are the “leader of the free world” or something a bit more limited in scope. Three of the most pertinent leadership lessons are: (1) power and authority are both positional and personal; (2) persuasion is more effective than commanding; and (3) good leaders must always possess an awareness of themselves and the situations in which they act. 

You hold a formal position of power, but the institutional authority that comes with this position is not the same thing as leadership. Instead, leadership challenges you to develop and use important personal qualities, such as the ability to inspire, the skills to negotiate, the recognition of opportunities, and the strategic use of resources. The history of the American presidency is the history of  forty-four individuals occupying the same formal office, but often succeeding or failing as a result of the personal skills that they draw on (or fail to draw on). Position matters; but as the distinguished scholar Richard Neustadt explained: A leader’s “advantages are greater than a mere listing of…’powers’” (1990, p.31).

Among the most important of their personal skills is the ability to persuade. As scholar Michael Genovese argues, “power is about influence,” not command. “There are precious few occasions when a president can act on his own authority, ‘independent’ of other political actors. Such unilateral acts are the exception, not the rule” (2008, p.33). Reflect on your own daily practice; your leadership situation is similar, no doubt. Power is shared. Therefore, truly effective leadership relies not on command and force, but persuasion. As Neustadt advised John F. Kennedy, and four decades of subsequent presidents: “The power to persuade is the power to bargain” (1990, p.32). Leadership is a give-and-take endeavor. 

But what personal skills should be used, when, and how? You do not and cannot lead in a vacuum—always lead in context. In other words, be aware of the environment in which you make decisions. Genovese uses the analogy that all leaders are dealt a hand of cards (several hands , in fact). Sometimes you get a great hand, sometimes a poor one. Regardless of the deal, “[s]uccessful leaders are those who can take full advantage of their opportunities, resources, and skills” (2008, p.41). Easier said than done, of course; but notice the implicit lessons in his analogy. A leader must be able to read situations with clear eyes in order to identify opportunities among challenges, as well as recognize those situations in which opportunities may simply not exist. A leader must also be clear-eyed when it comes to self-knowledge, reflecting on the optimum use of personal resources and skills. 

Of course, we all will misread situations and overplay or underplay our hand sometimes. Effective leadership demands that we reflect on these experiences, perform honest self-assessments, and move forward with our eyes open in an action-oriented way. History shows us that many presidents have failed to do so. From their lessons, be reminded that leadership is personal, it depends on persuasion, and demands attentive awareness of self and situation.     

Genovese, Michael A. Memo to a New President: The Art and Science of Presidential Leadership. New York: Oxford University Press (2008).
Neustadt, Richard E. Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. New York: The Free Press (1990).  



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gary Sasse: Rudderless in the Ocean State

Founding Director, Gary Sasse, shares his blog post from GoLocalProv:

A governor’s primary power is not the administration of government or the ability to veto legislation. It is the effective use of what President Theodore Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit”. A bully pulpit can bring issues to the fore due to the stature of the office and the publicity it generates. When a governor speaks the entire state listens. When governors do not address real issues they lose relevance, 
influence and credibility.

Gov. Chafee's Tough Road

Over the past few years Rhode Island’s Governor has faced a rocky road. Not all the criticism aimed at Governor Chafee has always been fair. The Governor inherited a state economy mired in a great recession, the 38 Studios fiasco, and a miserable fiscal situation. His job was also made more difficult by communication failures and a General Assembly that was sometimes indifferent to his leadership.
Regardless of the causes, a recent public opinion poll prepared by Fleming and Associates found that 57% of Rhode Islanders believe that the State is headed in the wrong direction. Also only 30% think that Governor Chafee is doing an excellent or good job. As President Lyndon Johnson so aptly stated, “Every President has to develop a moral underpinning to his power, or he soon discovers that he has no power at all.” This observation pretty much describes the condition of leadership in the Ocean State.

Gary Sasse: Vote Questions If Higher Taxes Result In Better Schools

Founding Director, Gary Sasse, shares his blog post from GoLocalProv:

The bellwether election this year was not the gubernatorial contests in either New Jersey or Virginia. Rather it was the overwhelming defeat of Amendment 66 in Colorado. Voters in the Centennial State took a sledgehammer to this school and tax reform ballot initiative and defeated it by a two to one margin.

Amendment 66 was the focus of progressives nationwide. Proponents raised $10 million to promote its passage. This included $1 million each from the Gates Foundation and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was aggressively supported by the Governor, the Democratic controlled legislature, teacher unions and others in the educational establishment.
Amendment 66 asked Colorado voters to approve an income tax increase to finance what arguably would have been the most comprehensive school reform program in recent memory.
For the rest of the post visit: http://www.golocalprov.com/politics/gary-sasse-tax-revolt-trumps-schools/

Gary Sasse: Is a Constitutional Convention Really Needed?

Founding Director, Gary Sasse, shares his blog post from GoLocalProv:


One year from now Rhode Island voters will be asked whether or not they wish to convene a constitutional convention. If the General Assembly does its job we will not need a costly convention. If the legislature punts there is a safety valve that allows the people to convene a convention.


The Ocean State’s economic health is linked to transparent, responsive and efficient government. The recent performance of state government reveals that there is a need to amend Rhode Island’s fundamental law. Therefore the following constitutional questions should be discussed during the next legislative session.

Gary Sasse: Is RI’s Tax Climate Really The 5th Worst?

Founding Director, Gary Sasse, shares his blog post from GoLocalProv:

Fall arrives when the leaves turn color, footballs fill the air and the Tax Foundation releases its State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI). This year, to nobody’s surprise, the Tax Foundation ranked Rhode Island’s business tax environment as the fifth worst in the United States.


Validity of the SBTCI

Economists question whether or not this ranking presents an accurate reflection of the actual tax burden a state places on its businesses. In Grading Places-What Does the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us? The Economic Policy Institute concluded that the SBTCI “ends up generating a number that has little relation to the actual taxes falling on new business investment in a state.” In other words, the SBTCI does not measure what it claims to measure.
Rhode Island’s leaders have neither publicly questioned nor challenged the Tax Foundation’s methodology or ranking results. We can only conclude that either they do not care or their silence is a sign of acquiescence. In fact, the State Senate’s report Moving the Needle seems to use the Tax Foundation’s ranking as a measure of Rhode Island’s business tax competitiveness.
For the rest of the post visit: 
http://www.golocalprov.com/business/gary-sasse-is-ris-tax-climate-really-the-5th-worst/

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Tale of Two Crises-Leadership Lessons from Banking Crisis Applicable Today to Restore Confidence


Founding Director, Gary Sasse, shares his bi-monthly blog post from GoLocalProv:


Gary Sasse: Rhode Island’s Tale of Two Crises

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

On New Year’s Day, 1991, Rhode Islanders awoke to one of the most painful economic and political scandals in the State’s history. The crisis was the closing of 45 financial institutions. This action by Governor Bruce Sundlun immediately froze the bank accounts of nearly one-third of the state’s population, cutting them off from $1.7 billion of their money. Twenty –two years later we are trying to address the disastrous investment made in 38 Studios which could cost taxpayers over $100 million.
Photo from WPRI Gallery and Posted by Ted Nesi of Nesi's Notes
 The economic magnitude of the potential 38 Studios liability is not remotely comparable to the banking crisis. Nevertheless, how elected officials responded may tell something about both the quality of their leadership and approach to open government. As the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

For the rest of the post visit: 

http://www.golocalprov.com/business/gary-sasse-rhode-islands-tale-of-two-crises/

Photo Posting from Ted Nesi of Nesi's Notes:
http://blogs.wpri.com/2011/07/26/will-retirees-greet-the-pension-session-with-street-protests/