Every time Newt Gingrich gets another 15 minutes of fame on the national political stage, the conversation inevitably turns to his keen mind and treasure trove of ideas. As a student of leadership styles and a advocate of the benefits these insights they provide, it is no mystery that Newt is doing what is completely natural to him – developing solutions to systemic problems that have never before been tried.
Strategic thinkers, like Newt, are found in less than seven percent of our population and are almost non-existent as contemporary political leaders. Why? Because this type of person has an insatiable desire to change, reform, fix, and generally “make-better” any system or organization they put their mind to. These people think outside the box and are not constrained by conventional wisdom or existing protocols. Indeed, they enjoy challenging the norms and will fight to ensure their ideas are heard and implemented.
Which is what makes Newt, Newt – he not only dreams big, he can build a better mousetrap and has the tenacity to make it reality. There is no better evidence of his prowess than the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. His bold ideas and powerful speech compelled a new generation of conservative leadership into elective office. His downfall a few years later is also equally informative about the less healthy side of this leadership style – a complete disregard for those who are not as enthusiastic with constant wholesale change and a unwillingness to integrate others opinions in the change process.
Americans are clearly craving leaders willing to boldly create solutions to the problems facing our country, although there seems be dwindling appetite for approaches rooted in partisan dogma and rhetoric. While we need leaders with a strategic intelligence now more than ever, will one who caters only to one political party serve us well? Perhaps we should ask President Obama how it is working out for him?