I've been reading a lot of books on leadership, idea generation, and teamwork lately. As a consequence, I find myself thinking about Ohio Governor John Kasich not so much in political terms, but more with an eye toward what constitutes an effective leader. I first considered this "Kasich as leader" question during the recent conversations regarding the lack of diversity in the Kasich cabinet.
One thing that never really came up during those discussions of diversity is the value that diverse backgrounds and opinions bring to the decision making process. To me, having diversity in the Kasich administration is less an issue of fairness, representation, or "what's right", and more an issue of building a team that's willing to look at all options.
There has been a lot of attention paid recently to the value of multiple perspectives in the problem solving arena. The Wisdom of Crowds, Where Good Ideas Come From, and Cognitive Surplus are just three popular business/sociology books that support the idea that diversity and multiple perspectives are key components of problem solving and idea generation. That this trend in leadership and organizational structure seems lost on our State's chief executive is troubling. These are challenging times for Ohio; times that require innovation, creativity, and a willingness to really think outside the box. By narrowing the range of backgrounds he's willing to hear from, Kasich effectively shrinks the pool of ideas that might be brought forward.
More recently, his now famous "idiot" comment provides another leadership scenario to consider. If his intent was to motivate EPA employees to be more responsive to the needs of their customers, a story in which he ridicules another public servant (who's not even there!) is hardly the most effective means to that end.
First of all it erodes trust. People in the audience are going to ask themselves, "If he's calling this cop an idiot when he's not here, I wonder what he says about us when we're not around?". Second, it ignores the vast amount of research that suggests that positive reinforcement (i.e. "You're doing this well. I'd like to see more of this behavior.") is more effective than negative commands (i.e. "Don't be like this idiot") when trying to change behaviors or motivate people.
Point being - and all politics aside - while Kasich has certainly found himself in a leadership position, I haven't seen much to indicate that he's a particularly thoughtful or effective leader.