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Fareed Zakaria GPS

How To Lead: What Makes A Great Leader?

Aired January 02, 2011 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is a special edition of GPS, THE GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE -- "How to Lead."

Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

America has a president who has an unusual background. No, I'm not talking about Barack Obama's Kenyan or Indonesian roots. I'm talking about the fact that he comes out of the legislature.

Almost all American presidents have had executive experience. There have been vice presidents, governors, or generals. Over the last century, only two before President Obama have come directly from the legislature, John F. Kennedy and Warren Harding.

Does this matter? After all, most people think of John F. Kennedy as a very good president, and, at any rate, a man who vigorously exercised executive power.

Is President Obama's background the right one for an age in which negotiations are inevitable and compromise with the legislature is essential? Or is he just too weak as a president?

To answer these questions intelligently, we need ask ourselves what makes a good leader? What makes a great leader? I think the answer will vary widely, depending on the time and place. After all, the qualities that made General George Patton a successful head of the Third Army are probably not the same as those that will help a managing partner in a law firm lead his team in New York.

Max Weber famously made distinctions between charismatic leaders, authoritarian leaders and bureaucratic leaders. Charismatic leaders inspire, authoritarian ones command, and bureaucratic ones manage. I would add a fourth, a collegial leader, one who leads by persuasion.

When I travel around the country and around the world, there's one thing people often want to know. They say to me, you meet so many people who run things -- countries, companies, government agencies. What strikes you as the best qualities of a leader? So, on today's special, we'll explore exactly that. We'll help you think through what makes a good leader by listening to some of the people who have led in various fields. You will find that they emphasize different aspects of leaderships. Some have tasks that require more command, others more persuasion. But perhaps the truth is that to succeed in any of these positions, one needs a mix of all these qualities.

The leaders you're about to meet are Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Obama's top military adviser, and the top man in uniform in the U.S. military. He offers his ideas on not just how to lead but how to command.

Richard Levin, the president of Yale University and one of the top economists in the nation. He has few of the tools that corporate leaders have. He can't fire professors, he doesn't really hire them, the students are not his employees, either, but he has to lead them all through example and persuasion.

Lou Gerstner, who has led some of America's biggest companies, a turnaround king who took losing companies and turned them into winners. Gerstner will tell us how to succeed in a crisis.

Christie Whitman, first female governor of New Jersey, a member of George W. Bush's cabinet. How does a woman lead in what is still a male-dominated world? Whitman will tell us.

But, first up, he led a nation of more than 60 million people for more than 10 years. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the highest levels of leadership.


ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Blair, thank you for joining us.


ZAKARIA: Do you think that political leadership is different from leadership in the military or business spheres? Is there something unique about the nature -- the nature of politics?

BLAIR: No. I think this is interesting, actually, because, in my view, no.

When I think of the great leaders that I know, I wouldn't just think of political leaders, I will think of business leaders, I will think of leaders of community organizations, I will think of, you know, a few managers of soccer clubs I know. The coaches at some of those clubs, they're great leaders.

ZAKARIA: And what's the common trait?

BLAIR: The common trait is a clear sense of what you want to achieve, the ability to step up and step out and not step back when responsibility comes knocking, and a willingness to do things that are difficult, even unpopular, but you believe in them, so you're going to do them.

And if you take any organization, you know, the people that make the change and get the thing done are usually creative and innovative and very determined and are prepared to -- to -- when that mantel of responsibility is floating by, to take it and put it on -- on your shoulders, no matter how heavy it is. And -- and that is a very -- you know, so I -- I actually think sometime political leaders think that politics is unique. I don't think it is, actually. I think it's very -- it's -- leadership is a quality you recognize, you know, in whatever spear of life you're in.

ZAKARIA: But here's one area where it does have some differences. You need to be -- you need public approval at periodic intervals. You're -- you're re-elected.

BLAIR: It helps (ph).

ZAKARIA: And so doing something unpopular is very tough. I think it's much tougher for a politician. It's easy for a businessman to say they should -- politicians should do unpopular things. They don't have to run for re-election. But you did, and you still ended up doing something.

The Iraq War, that was extremely unpopular. Did you -- did you find that it sapped your -- your will to know that what you were doing was something that 70 percent of the British people thought was a bad idea?

BLAIR: Look, you've got to take account of that in the work that you do. Although, I would actually say, again, in -- in any leadership position -- I mean, the stakes are different, obviously, in politics, especially if you're talking about war and peace and so on. But, you know, a business person, if they mess up their leadership, they -- they pay this -- stockholders come after them or, you know, the fans come after you, if you're running a football club. So I think, you know, everyone has a system of accountability.

But here's the thing, because, I mean, even after Iraq I've won a general election. I -- I do think that part of being a leader is to understand that there is a very deliberative process on behalf of the electorate where they're giving the leadership to you. And it's a funny thing about this. They will forgive you anything, in fact, they may even forgive you a decision they profoundly disagree with, but they wouldn't forgive you for not deciding.

You know, in other words, strength and conviction in leadership is very, very important. And, you know, if they think you're out there and you're doing what you think is -- is right, even if they disagree with it, they will give you a certain understanding, actually. And I found that even in the most difficult things.

So when I was doing domestic reform, and actually I -- I came closest to losing my premiership over education reform --

ZAKARIA: Again, something you took on that was quite unpopular.

BLAIR: Yes. Very unpopular, in certain quarters at least. And, you know, I found that people, though, they kind of think, well, that's what we elected you to do. So OK, you know, we may not like it, and I was always very frank about this. I said, look, what I believe I owe you as the decision maker is to take the decision that I think is right. Now, if you disagree with that, you've got the right to put me out. You know, people often say to politicians, listen to the people. And I always say, but the problem is, they don't agree, OK? So, you know, who do I listen --

ZAKARIA: Yes. Yes, yes.

BLAIR: I think that's not the way it can work. Of course, you -- you should listen to both sides as you'd listen to people. But, in the end, the whole purpose of them giving you this mantle of leadership is that you do exercise it and take responsibility for those decisions.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that there's something different about leadership at the level at which you exercised it? Because it's public, it's global, every half sentence you utter becomes global news. Does that kind of scrutiny change the nature of leadership?

BLAIR: I think it does because it -- it puts you in a situation where the entire time you're on show and, you know, I always used to say to people when -- even Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister, she would maybe do an interaction with the press every so often, pretty much as a matter of choice. Even when I was prime minister, it was kind of like a few times a week you'd be interacting.

So you're on a far different media environment. Your agenda is far busier. You know, for example, in Europe, you've got European council meetings the whole time, you've got global meetings. A lot of the challenges of global, it's very sensible to have those global meetings. But the public back home often doesn't, you know, really understand that and kind of think what's the prime minister or president doing?

But the other thing is, it's -- then it gets quite tough to -- to find the time and the energy for strategic thought.

ZAKARIA: Which is the more important part, do you think, for a leader or is -- was it both important, the -- the painting a picture, the creating a narrative, you know, the big picture, giving people a sense of where you're going or is it the nitty-gritty of actually changing these very hard-to-change systems like education? Which did you find more important?

BLAIR: Well, both are, I'm afraid. The answer -- short answer is both. I think the latter, getting policy right, is the toughest thing, though.

You know, if you're -- if you're smart and articulate and so on, you can usually articulate the vision. And, you know, you know basically where you want to go. The hard thing about the modern world is how to do it. you know, most --

ZAKARIA: Yes, it's because these institutions have become so large and have so many constituencies --

BLAIR: Yes. Yes, and because you're taking on vested interests, systems that have grown up over a long period of time, because the world changes so fast. I mean, part of the trouble is that, you know, countries -- this is why it's so important to have a -- a country with enough sort of freedom in it so that it innovates constantly, because the nature of the modern world is that it's changing so fast. So whether you're in a business or an organization or leading a country, you're constantly changing and reforming.

And so I've found what was very difficult in the U.K., because people said to me, particularly towards the end of my time, we had enough of all this change. Why do you keep telling us we've got to change again? You know, let's keep steady for a bit.

And my experience of change is -- is this, when you propose it, everyone tells you it's a bad idea, when you're doing it, it's hell, and, after you've done it, people think things were always like that. And so what I've found by the end of my time was that I was always wishing I'd actually pushed -- pushed the envelope further.

And I think, you know, that it's really tough to make policy changes in government today, but one piece of good news, for political leaders at least, is I think what governments should be doing today is pretty clear. Doing it is still very hard, but, you know, if you look around the world today, say health care reform, education reform --

ZAKARIA: Fiscal --

BLAIR: -- business, you know, fiscal reform, there are some pretty clear lessons there.

ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, pleasure to have you.

BLAIR: Thank you.



LOU GERSTNER, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, IBM: So you just can't go out and paint a picture of, my God, it's awful, it's awful, it's awful. We're going to die. And then people say, that's nice, but what are you doing here? What is your role?



ZAKARIA: We're back with a special edition of GPS, "How to Lead."

If true test of leadership come during crisis, then Lou Gerstner has been tested many times. He's been president of American Express, chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco, but perhaps his biggest test came at IBM.

When Gerstner took over Big Blue in 1993, the American icon was on the road to failure. The year he took over, IBM had $8 billion in losses. The year he left, IBM had $8 billion in profits, and it had become world class once again.

Lou Gerstner on what skills he needed to affect that kind of turnaround.


ZAKARIA: Lou Gerstner, pleasure to have you.

GERSTNER: Thank you. Glad to be here.

ZAKARIA: You -- you've turned three companies around, but you also work at a management consulting firm. You're with McKinsey, RJR, American Express, IBM. IBM is the most famous turnaround, where you, "made an elephant dance," as you described it.

How do you get people to do what you want them to?

GERSTNER: Well, I think you start off with -- I mean, I start off with my definition of leadership, which is leaders get people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do. And so leadership, in my opinion, is all about change.

You know, you don't need a leader to sort of administer something that's going very well. In fact, in one sense, an overly ambitious person in that circumstance can probably screw it up. But leadership comes to the fore when something has to change, and I think that it begins -- it begins with creating a sense of urgency, it begins with creating a sense of purpose, a need to change because nobody wants to change. Nobody -- I don't care who you are. High levels of an organization, maybe the young people are more attuned to change.

So leaders create a sense of urgency and a sense of direction.

ZAKARIA: And that's a power of persuasion, right?


ZAKARIA: Because you -- then you have to make your case, as it were.

GERSTNER: It's about communication. It's about honesty. It's about treating people in the organization as deserving to know the facts. You don't try to give them half the story. You don't try to hide the story. You treat them as -- as true equals, and you communicate and you communicate and communicate.

I probably spent 50 percent of my time in the first six months at IBM talking to people about the need for IBM to do something different.

ZAKARIA: Did you paint the real picture, which was that IBM was -- was on its way to a kind of potential extinction?

GERSTNER: Yes, I did. But I also painted the picture that there was a huge opportunity for us to be a leader again if we did things differently. So you just can't go out and paint a picture of, my God, it's awful, it's awful, it's awful. We're going to die. And then people say, that's nice, but what are you doing here? What is your role?

And so you need to create a sense of urgency, but you -- along with that, you need to create a sense of hope and direction for the future. And then -- and this is the most important part -- and then you have to make sure that everything that happens in that organization is aligned with that new direction.

ZAKARIA: When you look at a person, middle, senior management, average guy, they're scared of change, as you said, but they're also scared of being the revolutionary. So you're asking them to do things differently, and they're wondering, wait a minute, but whenever I've -- you know, I've -- I've had a standard operating procedure. I've done my job well. Now I'm being asked to do something completely different.

How do you convince them that -- you know because you're just one guy in this big organization.


ZAKARIA: Everybody else might still be aligned to the old way.

GERSTNER: But -- but you see, that's what I mean about changing the processes that -- that say to them that we're going to behave differently, and, therefore, it's allowable, and not only allowable, expected for you to behave differently.

And so one of the things that I needed to build in IBM, because of the strategy we created, was an ability to team inside of IBM, an ability to work as a team across the business unit. Well, I found out that the compensation system was based entirely on individual performance. It was all individual performance. So I changed the compensation system so people got rewarded only for a team effort.

Well, that sort of gives people some incentive to change. They now see that the -- the rules have changed, the system has changed.

ZAKARIA: Machiavelli once said it is better to be feared than loved. Some people have said your leadership style was more to get people to fear you. Is that fair?

GERSTNER: I don't think so. I think what my leadership style is to get people to fear staying in place, to fear not changing.

I mean, I love that quote from Andy Grove that said "Only the paranoid succeed" or "only the paranoid survive." I mean, I think you do need some kind of paranoia in an organization that we're in a competitive battle, and we need to stay on top. And you want to call that fear? I'm OK with that.

But I don't want people to fear other people. I want them to fear our competitors, and to feel like they need to change and they need to keep driving for success. Personal -- personal animosity or personal fear gets you nowhere.

On the other hand, I don't think you can have a great need to be loved and be an effective change agent. I mean, you do have to make tough decisions. You do have to, in effect, tell people that things aren't the way they used to be, and, you know, I'm responsible for seeing that change gets made and hold people accountable.

ZAKARIA: Lou Gerstner, thank you very much.

GERSTNER: You're welcome.



CHRISTIE WHITMAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I'd be in a meeting and I'd be the only female there, and I would say something, and the conversation would continue on, and then a man down the table would say exactly the same thing, and oh, what a brilliant idea. And I'd go, OK, right. It's OK. As long as they got the idea, it's all right by me.



ZAKARIA: In the 112th Congress, only 17 percent of the seats will be filled by women, and just 12 percent of America's states are governed by females. Women don't do much better in the corporate world.

Christie Todd Whitman was the first female governor of New Jersey and a member of President George W. Bush's cabinet. She now sits on several major corporate boards.

Governor Whitman on women leading in an often male-dominated world.


ZAKARIA: Governor Whitman, thank you for joining me.

WHITMAN: My pleasure.

ZAKARIA: The thing that one often wonders about when dealing with a very accomplished woman like you, who has succeed in many different realms is, is it different being a woman?

WHITMAN: I wouldn't know. I've never been a man.

I -- I don't mean to say that facetiously, but I used to get the question a lot, what's it like being a woman governor? And I can say I can tell you what it's like to be a governor. I don't know what it's like to be a woman versus a male.

However, having said that, being out of office now for a while, I can look back and see where I was treated differently or the standards were slightly different than they would have been for my male counterparts. But, you know, when you're going through it, you are you what you are, and the job is what it is, and you have to do it.

ZAKARIA: But do you think there are different styles of leadership? Because you --


ZAKARIA: -- you must have dealt with a lot of men --

WHITMAN: No. No, no, no. I --

ZAKARIA: -- and you've seen the -- the differences.

WHITMAN: Yes. No, that's very true. I think there really are differences, which is why I argue that we need a better mix at the decision making table, not just men and women, but minorities as well, because we do bring a different approach, different life experiences, different frames of reference.

I mean, I've -- I've often found and the minute you generalize you get into trouble. But it was often the case when I'd be in a meeting and I'd be the only female there, and I would say something, and the conversation would continue on, and then a man down the table would say exactly the same thing, and oh, what a brilliant idea. And I go, OK, right. It's OK. As long they got the idea, it's all right by me.

ZAKARIA: And what about the idea that there is a kind of a -- a softer style and a more consensus-building style? Do you think that's true?

WHITMAN: Yes, I do. I mean, there used to be -- Millicent Fenwick was a congresswoman from New Jersey who the Lacey Davenport on the "Doonesbury" series, a cartoon series, used to say that if you give -- when women have been in power as long as men, they'll act just the same way. I don't think that's true. I think we will always see a difference.

And I used to remember, I'd send a bill as governor to the legislature, and they would deal with it as they're supposed to and then make changes. And then it would come back to me with changes, and I'd sign it. And -- and I can remember seeing headlines saying, well, it wasn't what she wanted. Well, that's not true. If we finally were moving an issue forward, it didn't have to be exactly the way I'd sent it in. That's what the legislature's supposed to do.

That was not a loss, as far as I was concerned. That was a victory. That was getting things done, moving into a place we hadn't been before. But, very often, the pundits, usually male, would be saying, well, that didn't get the way you wanted it, and so that wasn't a victory. And I'd say, you don't get it.

ZAKARIA: You know the famous story of Harry Truman, he --

WHITMAN: The buck stops here?

ZAKARIA: Well, no. He's -- Harry Truman, when he's about to hand over the office to Eisenhower, tells one of his aides, he says, poor Ike. He's -- all he's done is be a general. He's going to pick up the phone and say do this, do that --

WHITMAN: Oh, right.

ZAKARIA: -- and he's going to -- not going to realize none of it is ever going to happen.

Do you feel like that's another difference, that in -- in politics you can't just command?

WHITMAN: No, you can't just command. You have to get people -- it -- it goes back to a definition of leadership that I always liked, which is leadership is getting other people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. And that's what it takes.

You have to convince people. You have to work with people. You have to get people to support you on these things. You have to get them to understand. Communication becomes enormously important.

And while it's important for a CEO of a -- of a major company, it's even more so for a person in -- in political office, because it's a daily thing, and it -- it does require getting that support --

ZAKARIA: Is you're constantly persuading, you're --

WHITMAN: You're constantly persuading. You're constantly explaining. You're constantly trying to prioritize.

And the other thing that I think is quite different, you know, as CEO you do decide what's in the best interests of the company and what's in the best interests of the shareholders. But it's not the same thing as when you're -- when you're coming up with a policy in government.

Getting to understand the fact that there are always going to be people you're going to hurt, no matter how good a policy is, it's not going to benefit everybody. And you will have people coming to you saying, this is going to kill me. I mean, this is going to put me out of business, this is going to hurt my children, whatever it is. And it's that ability to stand back and say, what's going to be in the greatest good for the greatest number?

ZAKARIA: Do you -- do you think that there are still glass ceilings for women in America?

WHITMAN: Yes. I mean, there's still -- you can certainly see it on the -- on the business side. And for women in politics, it's fortunately breaking down a bit, but it's still there more in presumptions.

It's interesting. My daughter ran for Congress, and she's -- was a mother. She was 30. She had twin boys, who were young at the time, very young. And -- but she worked on Capitol Hill, she'd been communications director for a pretty prominent congressman. She'd worked at the Department of Labor, running programs for them. She'd had her own business, management consulting business, events planning. And she was a licensed realtor in the state of New Jersey.

And yet, when she ran, people would look at her and say, well, you're -- you don't have enough experience. And who's going to take care of the kids? And yet, the fellow whose seat she was seeking had been 30 when he'd run. He had young children, and he'd been a substitute teacher. And nobody said you don't have enough experience or who's going to take care of the children?

So there is still that bias there which does, in fact, create a ceiling on expectations, and it makes it tougher on -- on women. But it's breaking down, fortunately.

Business world not so much. We still don't have pay equity. But it's getting better. It's just taking a long time.

ZAKARIA: Governor Whitman, thank you very much.

WHITMAN: Pleasure.



RICHARD LEVIN, PRESIDENT, YALE UNIVERSITY: This notion of a common shared purpose actually makes it -- makes it -- you know, it's in truth easier to run a university than to run the United States of America. I don't think there's any question that President Obama has a much harder job than I do.



ZAKARIA: Running a major university is a unique challenge. You're charged with leading hundreds of tenured professors whom you didn't hire and you can't fire, and thousands of students, alumni, and staff, all of whom think the university basically exists for them.

As president of Yale University, Richard Levin has become one of America's most successful leaders in higher education by mastering the art of persuasion. Levin has also mastered economics. He is one of America's most distinguished economists. I should note that I am a trustee of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of the university. Here now, Richard Levin.


ZAKARIA: President Levin, thank you for joining me.

LEVIN: Nice to be here.

ZAKARIA: So when I think about leading a university, it's not just that you don't hire the faculty and you can't fire the students. But it's that you're dealing with people, when I think of the faculty, this is -- these are people who have chosen this profession because they don't want to be managed, and you have to manage them. So how do you do it?

LEVIN: It's not the easiest job in the world, I'll tell you. But, you know, one of the things that brings a university together is there really is a common commitment to a shared set of values about the importance of the advancement of knowledge and the important of a scholarly enterprise and about the importance of educating young people. So in some ways people talk about academic politics being the most vicious around because the stakes are so small. I don't think that's really true.

I think underneath it, there is a kind of common sense, a purpose that if you can draw on that and inspire people and convince them we're all marching in the same direction and have good things to accomplish, you can -- you can succeed in keeping the community from being excessively fractured.

ZAKARIA: But do you think a great deal of your job then is painting that picture describing that common vision so people buy into it?

LEVIN: Absolutely. In fact, the key thing, I think, for a university leader, any leader, but a university leader in particular is, I think, to give a clear sense of direction to the institution, to give a clear vision. If you appear to be at sea (ph), then all of the disharmonious interest will surface and everyone will be out for his or her own agenda. But if you can articulate a handful of common themes that seem important to the overall well-being of the institution, it wouldn't entirely suppress the amble spirits of the faculty, but it will -- it will at least give people the sense that the institution as a whole is moving forward.

We tried to do that at Yale over these last 17 and a half years to identify a few themes that have been paramount and to pursue them.

ZAKARIA: You've led Yale through extraordinary expansion, huge growth of its endowment, huge expansion of the facilities. But you've also now had to lead it through some very painful cost-cutting, hundreds of millions of dollars.

What is the key on the downturn when you're managing through a crisis?

LEVIN: It is so much easier sailing with the wind at your back than sailing into the wind, there's no question. And I do think, you know, the fact that we've had an extraordinary run of good fortune and if -- I think if we have to tighten our belts, as long the burden is fairly distributed amongst us, we could do it.

I think we've managed to maintain a pretty -- a pretty high morale through this. It's not perfect, and it's hard, and people do their -- they're chomping at the bit wanting to get moving again. But we're -- I think we're doing pretty well adjusting to a time where we just simply can't grow as rapidly or expand as rapidly or -- or take on new initiatives as vigorously as we did in the 10 years or so prior to the -- to the recession.

ZAKARIA: How much does a leader like you consult or try to get the approval, you know, think about being popular, because one of the decisions you have taken was to expand Yale College. And somebody once put it this way, when looking at the reaction of the students, which was initially negative. It was like, if you're a member of a club and somebody says we're going to double the membership, nobody likes -- none of the existing members like the idea.

LEVIN: Right.

ZAKARIA: So how much do you worry about the existing members?

LEVIN: Well, you do. You try -- you try to persuade as much as possible, and -- but you can't always persuade everyone and sometimes you just have to reach the right decision that's in the best long run interest of the institution even if everybody's not on board.

ZAKARIA: When you think -- when you manage, a lot of what universities have to do is do stuff by committee. And you know what people say about committees, this is -- you know, camel is a horse designed by a committee. How do you make committee management work? How do you make it end up getting you the outcome you want even though it was done by a committee?

LEVIN: Well, this is an imperfect -- an imperfect activity. You know, Academics are very smart people and they're -- and have been independent mind. And so, you can't always -- you can't always be assured that the outcome will come out the way you want.

One of the things that I think is important in guiding an institution like a university is to differentiate clearly and have a clear sense of what you need to get a faculty to buy into and indeed own as their own decision and what -- and what you can do of your own initiative as a university president or a dean of a school. And there -- and there are clear distinctions.

The two prerogatives the faculty guard most fell is and that are really embedded into the written and unwritten constitution of -- of most universities is the faculty-control curriculum and the faculty- control appointments to the faculty. So you have to be very cautious about your attempts to move and have -- and have influence in those areas. But you can try -- outside those areas of curriculum and faculty appointments, you have a lot more latitude to -- to sort of change the direction of the institution.

ZAKARIA: The leadership style you're describing seems to me a lot of persuasion, a lot of cooperation and a lot of working with others. This strikes me as very well suited to Washington. Wouldn't you say that -- where sort of everyone thinks they're the boss and nobody really is. Do you think that this is something you'd like to see more in Washington? This kind of leadership by persuasion?

LEVIN: Well, I think that probably is the only way people do lead in Washington is through persuasion, ultimately. I mean, you can't -- we fortunately, our constitution doesn't permit leading by dictate. So I think there are similarities.

I think there are -- you know, the difference is the stakes are higher in Washington, and they're fundamental of economic and ideological differences that run much deeper than they do within the university community. So this notion of a common shared purpose actually makes it -- makes it, you know, it's in truth easier to run a university than to run the United States of America. I don't think there's any question that President Obama has a much harder job than I do.

ZAKARIA: Rick Levin, thank you very much.

LEVIN: Thank you.



ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: One of the things that has been a leadership principle for me forever is I don't want -- I want to understand as much as I can about what I'm asking a young man or a young woman to do, including to die for our country.



BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good evening, everyone. I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider in the CNN Weather Center.

We are tracking this brutal storm that's pounding the northeast. Blizzard warnings continue straight through tomorrow for a good portion of New England, particularly coastal areas. New York City getting hammered, where visibility is less than three quarters of a mile. We're also looking at airport closures in Newark due to the severe snow. It's piling up and shattering records.

Winter storm warnings for cities like Philadelphia and Wilmington into the overnight hours. Snow will accumulate there, but less snow is in the forecast for Washington, D.C. You can really see the dividing line here where the heavy bands are going right through New Jersey and then certainly up into New England as that storm advances to the east.

Rain is mixing in at times with the storm system in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, but it's all snow once you head into Boston, and Boston, as well, under a blizzard warning. So we're tracking that, as well.

To the south, be careful out there. It's only snowing lightly. We have snow flurries across Atlanta, down through Columbia, Charleston, and certainly into Nashville. Accumulations not expected. But the temperatures here are in the teens and 20s, and they will stay frozen overnight. So we'll see a lot of icy patches as we go through the morning hours into tomorrow. The advisories you see here will expire very early in the morning, but we'll still look for wintry weather across places like the Carolinas and Tennessee.

That's a look at your forecast. Stay tuned. We have a lot more coming up.


ZAKARIA: Welcome back to a special edition of GPS, "How to Lead."

In Admiral Mike Mullen's current job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he's the principal military adviser to the president and the highest ranking officer in the entire U.S. Military. In that role, as he says, he doesn't command anything, but most of his career has been about commanding, dozens of ships and tens of thousands of sailors. His first taste of it came when he was just 27 years old and found himself in charge of a ship in the Mediterranean during the 1973 war in the Middle East.

What does it take to lead men and women in war and in peace? Admiral Mike Mullen.


ZAKARIA: How do you get people to listen to you? Is it all about command, that you just have that authority? You say it, they tremble and do it?

MULLEN: Well, the Navy has this wonderful tradition. I mean, the captain of the ship is the captain of the ship. And certainly I don't subscribe to just being the captain means you're automatically a great leader, because that's not always the case.

But in the toughest situations I've ever been in, the single most important aspect of who I am or who somebody else is leadership. And I find great leaders who -- who emerge in crises that sometimes surprise people. And our toughest problems are solved by leadership. And so I've worked very hard to become a good leader, to understand it.

And as I become more senior, as I am now, one of the things I worry about the most is how do I stay in touch with those that I affect the most. I'm a Vietnam vet, so I was here when -- when men and women came back from Vietnam and were not well received by the American people. So I am focused on the hardest part of these wars. So -

ZAKARIA: Which is?

MULLEN: -- which is the young men and women who come home to Dover. Deborah and I go to Dover to meet those families and to -- to face the most difficult part of it. We attend the funerals at Arlington. We meet with spouses of the fallen -- families of the fallen. ZAKARIA: And all this sends a signal to the troops in the field that you will be there for them.

MULLEN: Well, and I certainly intend to be there for them. And I meet them in the field. I try local commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq don't necessarily want me out in the middle of the fight, and I can understand that. But when I visit, I try to get as far into that as I can because one of the thing that's been a leadership principle for me forever is I don't want -- I want to understand as much as I can about what I'm asking a young man or a young woman to do, including to die for our country.

That's -- that's just in my soul, I need to do that. So I push the envelope pretty hard with respect to that because I feel responsible for that. I feel accountable for their lives, and that goes back to accountability that I learned very young as a naval officer.

ZAKARIA: You have another -- a part of leadership which is, I would say, more horizontal. You've got a whole bunch of people at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the Army, the head of the Navy, senior generals, admirals. And these are people, I'm assuming, you don't just bark orders to, these are people you have to persuade. I'm guessing that -- that relationship is a more political one, not in a bad sense but in the sense of persuasion.

MULLEN: Well, this is our 10th year of war. We live in extraordinarily difficult and complex times that are unpredictable in so many ways. And I couldn't do it without the team. I'm pretty -- so I do work hard to try to influence them. I do work hard to listen to them.

One of -- another thing that I try to subscribe to, particularly as I've gotten more senior is listening, learning, and leading, and so the more senior I've become, the more I try to listen to others and to see challenges and problems through other people's eyes, whether they are service chiefs, combatant commanders or in fact leaders -- military leaders throughout the world.

So I've worked hard to -- to bring that team together, to understand them, and at the same time, I'm not shy at all about here we go. And this is what we're going to do, and I have found them to be incredibly supportive of where we're headed, particularly in these wars and in ways that actually give me great comfort that it's a -- it's a great leadership team in an extraordinarily difficult time.

ZAKARIA: When you see a young officer in the field, what is -- what is the quality that he or she has that makes you think this is a potential leader? How do you spot leadership?

MULLEN: Well, they're pretty clear-eyed. They're pretty frank with what's going on. They'll look me in the eye, and they wouldn't be shy about what they're telling me.

I get asked an awful lot about the future of our military. And if I'm concerned about one group in our military right now, it would be those young captains and lieutenants, those young mid-grade non- commissioned officers who've been through these wars and they're the most combat experienced force we've had in our history. They are exceptional in what they've done. And if we retain them in our military in the right proportion, the right numbers, then our military is going to be fine for the future and it's going to be fine because they will lead us.

If we don't do that, then I think our future is much more difficult. And this at a time where they and their families have sacrificed so much. So it's pretty easy when I meet young officers or mid-grade NCOs to say very quickly, particularly in these very raw combat environments, to say very quickly, this is somebody that's pretty special from a leadership standpoint.

ZAKARIA: Admiral Mullen, thank you so much.

MULLEN: Thanks, Fareed.



GERSTNER: The thing I learned the most is that if you really want to drive change, you know, you have to understand what makes people tick. What do they value? What do they do? And -- and what makes them come to work every day and do the things they do?



ZAKARIA: On this special edition of GPS, "How To Lead," we've gathered some top leaders in their fields. So what's the best advice they have to offer on how to lead? That's what I asked them.


GERSTNER: If you really want to create change or you want to lead something, you need to understand the culture of that institution and -- and why people behave the way they do, how they think they should behave, how they're rewarded, how they -- what they value, and those -- that sort of understanding to me, I undervalued early in my career.

I mean, I just thought, you know, it was just figure out what to do and go put the resources in place and let's go. And it wasn't until I really understood what had happened to IBM. IBM lost touch with its customers. It became so successful that IBM focused on inside, inside IBM instead of outside IBM. That's behavior.

So I would say to you that the thing I learned the most is if you really want to drive change, you know, you have to understand what makes people tick, what do they value, what do they do, and -- and what makes them come to work every day and do the things they do?

LEVIN: Have strong vision, communicate it clearly. Set goals that are ambitious, but not unrealistic. Set goals that people can imagine reaching, rather than overreaching, so that sometimes means going step by step toward an ultimate goal. And -- and I think it empower people. You know, nobody can run a complicated institution all alone. So it's really important to pick a great team and to empower them to do their jobs.

MULLEN: Make sure you know your people and you take good care of them and make sure that you under all circumstances can look yourself in the mirror every single day, and that your integrity is always intact and hold yourself accountable. Hold yourself accountable for yourself, your actions, and your unit, whatever -- whatever size that unit maybe.

WHITMAN: I realize that you're never going to have all the answers to everything, and not to worry about that. And what you need to do is figure out where you have gaps in your knowledge and who's going to know the answers to those things. And learn from them. I mean, I've had several positions where I really knew very little, but I knew there were people there who were experts. This was their life. And you learn who to trust. And that's something very important. You have to figure out who to trust.

And then, to me, the most empowering thing -- or the most important thing that's helped me the most is empowering good people. Because when you put good people in place and then you tell them, I'm going to respect your judgments, we're going to work together, we're going to get this done, it's amazing what you can accomplish.


ZAKARIA: Lessons on leadership. Now, the challenge to you is to put these all to good use in 2011.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.