A Low Key Leader Can Get Things Done

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Fascinating article in The Washington Post this morning about Ben Bernanke and the Fed. The Fed is designed to move slowly. It is an insular and massive organization of overlapping bureaucracies. Hard to get things done. And it seems like it has been that way since its founding.

Bernacke has been able to get support for many major new initiatives. His low-key style is in marked contrast to his predecessor. He appears to be successful, not in spite of his low-key approach, but because of it.

Alan Blinder said, “It’s not Ben’s personality to pound the table and scream and say you’re going to agree with me or else. . . he’s succeeded by respecting their points of view and through the force of his own intellect.”

At meetings, he listens to all of the regional Fed directors. Calls a break, goes to his office and writes some notes. When the meeting picks up, he summarizes what he heard. According to the article, “He sometimes articulates the views of the dissenters more persuasively than they did.”

He will send out “blue sky” e-mails with ideas that come out of the clear blue sky. He encourages people to come up with ideas that are out of the ordinary and innovative. This is not the typical way the US central bank works.

The article is well worth reading. How Bernacke Staged a Revolution