Sunday, September 18, 2011

Part IX: Mitt Romney's Leadership Style

Now that we've looked at Mitt Romney's early experiences of being a leader while serving in various positions in his faith to his business career and his record as govenor of Massachusetts, we can learn a lot about his leadership style. Its not enough to look at a candidate's record. Its also important to inquire about a candidate make his decisions? How does he react in a crisis? How well does he work with others?
Mitt Romney's Love Of Facts And Data
Mitt Romney is a pragmatic yet creative leader. He is not an idealouge like George W. Bush or Barak Obama have been accused of being. Mitt Romney loves looking at data, statistics, trends and other items of information to come up with a creative solution to a problem:
Of Mitt, says Fraser Bullock, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on the Olympics: “He’s not an ideologue. He makes decisions based on researching data more deeply than anyone I know. As people get to know him better, they’ll see an extremely competent, strong leader.” It’s true. Mitt is known for his fixation with data, disparagement of waste, and diligent digging until he finds a working solution to a vexing problem.
Indeed, Mitt Romney himself confesses that he has a love for scrutinizing data: 
My ten years in consulting and my sixteen years in venture capital and private equity taught me that there are answers in numbers. Pile the budgets on my desk and let me wallow. Numbers can help solve a mystery. I discover trends, form hypotheses, most of which fail but lead to others that are more fruitful. Almost without exception, I learn something that is key to the success of the enterprise (Turnaround, Regnery Publishing Inc, Washington DC).
Here's another article that provides more insight about Romney's love of diving into the facts:
“My favorite thing to do is to bathe in data,” he says now, “do analysis, reach conclusions, and then find a breakthrough. There is nothing as exciting as that ‘aha!’ moment—seeing something that looks insoluble and finding a way to make it work.”
The episode highlights what would become the defining characteristic of Romney’s career as a venture capitalist—and later as a government executive. He was willing to pursue—and analyze—data that others wouldn’t bother to chase down. His dogged persistence paid off. During the 14 years Romney headed Bain Capital, the firm’s average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was a staggering 113 percent. At that growth rate, a hypothetical $1,000 investment would grow to $39.6 million before fees. Few, if any, VC firms have ever matched Bain Capital’s performance under Mitt Romney.
You can see the influence of his Bain background in how he approached government. He explained in an interview with Fast Company magazine: “The business world is very unforgiving if your numbers don’t add up. In the public sector, there is a potential for a great deal more sloppiness…. My experience in the investment and consulting worlds helped me develop an approach to turnaround situations….
“Number one: Stanch the bleeding…. Then you do a strategic assessment of how bad things are. When I became governor, we immediately found that we were in financial distress. We carried out an audit of where we were and developed a pared-down budget that didn’t force us to raise taxes or eliminate essential services. You have to build the right team. I look for bright people with strong personalities who will argue with me…. Finally, you have to focus. In business, you realize that unless you improve the way you’re doing things, you’ll be left behind. Government tends to add programs but doesn’t think in terms of eliminating inefficiency, much less constant improvement. I look at every program and think, How can we make this better? In the private sector, change is a part of everyday life.”
Mitt Romney's love of diving into the facts can be seen in the creation of his health plan for Massachusetts: 
It was inevitable that, as governor, Romney would go after the thorniest public-policy problem of all: health care. Tom Stemberg convinced him to take it on. In April, with a good deal of national attention, Romney signed a measure to provide universal coverage for the uninsured in Massachusetts without raising taxes or resorting to employer mandates. The conservative Heritage Foundation played an advisory role; the measure won grudging support from Ted Kennedy (who had beaten Romney, 58 percent to 41 percent, in a Senate race in 1994) and even The New York Times editorial board, which called it “a carefully crafted plan with elements that could serve as a model for elsewhere.”
Romney had started, naturally, with a Bain-style strategic audit, pulling together experts from business, academia, and government, and posing a few basic—though frequently overlooked—questions: Who exactly was uninsured? Why were they uninsured? What could be done to enable people to keep their health coverage even if they switched jobs or worked as independent contractors?
A survey of 5,000 state households turned up some surprises. Twenty percent of the uninsured were eligible for Medicaid but had not enrolled. Another 40 percent had annual earnings high enough to afford health care but had decided to forgo it. The remaining 40 percent were earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance.
Romney focused on the fact that so many people who could afford health care had decided to go without it. He asked for data on the bundled price of health care to be unpacked and looked for ways to change the market conditions that had driven up the cost of care. He ultimately settled on a measure, known as the Connector, which created an entirely new market for health care—enabling individuals and families to purchase private health insurance, with pre-tax dollars, at a savings of 20 percent to 40 percent. (Romney also pressed for eliminating a number of state-imposed mandates on health insurers, as these mandates had the perverse effect of driving up premiums and leading some companies to drop health insurance as a benefit. The legislature refused to go along, but did agree to a moratorium.)
Because, under the Connector system, health coverage was not tied to an employer, residents had a property right to the insurance and would not lose it if they switched jobs. “This is something conservatives have been trying to achieve for 50 years,” says Robert Moffit, a former Reagan administration official who, as director of Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, regularly consulted with Romney.
Romney created an Internet portal for hospitals and clinics to enroll eligible residents in Medicaid automatically when they sought treatment. For uninsured residents whose income was too high to qualify for Medicaid, Romney offered a subsidy funded from the state’s uninsured care fund, which totaled about $1 billion. Romney asked an MIT economist, Jonathan Gruber, to develop an econometric profile of this segment of uninsured residents. Gruber discovered that they were disproportionately young single males who were both educated and healthy, so the subsidies were unlikely to be greater than the $1 billion in the pool.
True to form, Romney became deeply immersed in crafting the health-care proposal. Moffit recalls that when he was asked to brief Romney, he found the tables turned. Romney was the one who gave Moffit the comprehensive PowerPoint presentation. “In 25 years of briefing elected officials and senior government executives, this was the first time I was the one who got briefed,” Moffit says. “It was like being in a private class with a very high-energy professor, and Romney was the professor and I was the student.”
Finding Creative Solutions To Problems
Another important leadership skill that Mitt Romney has is the ability to be creative in finding solutions to the problems. A good example of this is during the 2002 Winter Olympics when Mitt Romney was confronted with the problem that the Olympic games in Utah would most likely be a financial disaster. However, Mitt Romney found a way to raise revenue by adding additional sponsors to the Games:
Previous Olympic Games had a set number of sponsorship categories, for example, and when Mr. Romney and his team began work, they were told the list was full. So they invented new categories, said Fraser Bullock, who had worked with Mr. Romney at Bain and followed him to Utah to be chief operating officer for the Games. Mr. Bullock is not related to Kenneth Bullock.
That is how the Olympics got its first cake-mix sponsor (General Mills), first official Olympic meat (certified Angus beef) and first official job-search Web site (
“There was $500 million in sponsorship when we arrived, and by the time we were done there was $860 million, so over $300 million came from these additional categories,” Mr. Bullock said.
Working Well With Others
Another aspect of Mitt Romney's leadership style is that he has the ability to work well with others, even when the people who he is collaborating with are his critics.
Mr. Romney, the persuasive businessman, also defanged some critics. Stephen Pace knows about that. He was a business consultant who believed the Games would spell ruin for Utah and had made great sport of eviscerating Mr. Romney’s predecessors.
After the scandal broke in 1998, Mr. Pace and his friends paraded in front of news cameras with T-shirts that read, “Slalom and Gomorrah.” Organizing Committee leaders barred Mr. Pace from meetings, which of course only gave him even more ammunition.
Mr. Romney, however, was a different kind of foe. Instead of shunning Mr. Pace, he invited him to come to a committee meeting, and about the same time announced that all meetings would be open to the public. And when Mr. Pace arrived, with the cameras rolling, Mr. Romney proposed a trade — he wanted a “Slalom and Gomorrah” shirt and would give Mr. Pace a regular Olympics booster shirt. Mr. Pace took the deal, or some might say, the bait.
“Romney was levels of sophistication above the people who were here before,” Mr. Pace said in an interview in his home near the State Capitol. He said he could not help liking Mr. Romney.
Mr. Dryer, the lawyer and board member, recalled that day. “He invited the enemy,” Mr. Dryer said. “He sort of made fun of it, but in a lighthearted way, and diffused the situation — it cut the legs out from under Stephen Pace and his criticism.”
The 2002 Winter Olympics also shows that Romney is flexible in working with others and he picks his battles carefully so that he can achieve his ultimate goal of making the event a success:
“He always has an objective in mind and a goal that he works toward,” said Randy L. Dryer, a lawyer and a former member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee who worked closely with Mr. Romney and described himself as a Democrat, but also an admirer of Mr. Romney’s. “But he’s not unwilling to modify that objective if it’s an uphill battle and not worth the fight to get there — he is not bullheaded.”
Mitt Romney's ability to work well with others would come into play as governor as he worked with a state Congress dominated by Democrats to get Massachusetts out of debt, lowering taxes, creating jobs and providing health care for those who didn't have it. 
Efficient Time Manager
Mitt Romney doesn't like to waste time. Its not a part of his leadership style. Once again, this can be seen in that he used every minute of his time to find ways to keep the 2002 Winter Olympics from being a financial failure:
Mark Lewis, who led a fund-raising venture between the United States Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake Committee, remembered a trip to New York to woo corporate sponsors.
“We had 10 meetings, breakfast to dinner, but then suddenly we had an extra hour because of a cancellation,” Mr. Lewis said. “We were on some block in Midtown, and I remember Mitt saying, ‘What can we do for an hour?’ ”
Kicking back with a beer, or even a latte, was not an option — Mr. Romney, a Mormon, does not drink alcohol or coffee. So Mr. Lewis said he scratched his head and thought of a friend whose advertising agency represented Gateway Computers. Landing a last-minute appointment, they raced over. Four weeks later, Gateway was in the Olympics for the first time as a $20 million sponsor.
Thus, when Mitt Romney says that he will work to repeal ObamaCare on the first day in office via an executive order and proposing 5 bills to Congress and issuing 5 executive orders as part of his comprehensive economic plan get the economy back on track also on the first day of office, you can be confident that he won't waste any time following through on his promises.
Courage In The Face Of Crisis
Finally, an important aspect of Mitt Romney's leadership style is remaining strong in difficult times. He demonstrated that courage during the 2002 Winter Olympics:
On Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists brutally attacked the United States, questions abounded about the safety of the 2002 Winter Games. Many wondered aloud if the Olympics should be held at all. Romney responded respectfully and intrepidly. "Tears and prayers flood our hearts. But not fear. As a testament to the courage of the human spirit, and as a world symbol of peace, the Olympic Games are needed even more today than the day before," he said in a prepared statement two days after the attacks.
"The Olympics are about courage," he stated. "The Games represent the greatest qualities of the human spirit, including world peace. The message of the Olympics is even more important today than before."
As our nation faces many daunting challenges, Mitt Romney is a confident leader the American people can look up to. People can place their trust in him to confront the biggest issues of our time such as terrorism, unemployment and debt. 
Based on Mitt Romney's leadership style, he is without a doubt, the most qualified person to be in the White House in 2012.
Next, I will provide some concluding thoughts about the results of my comprehensive review of Mitt Romney's economic record and summarize what I have learned about him.

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