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David Walker

Former comptroller general of the United States, David Walker is founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.
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Resisting party pressure

Question: As the Senate’s “Gang of Six” struggle to come to agreement on a bipartisan budget plan, they are under intense social pressure from their caucus colleagues to abandon the effort and stick with the party line. In a clubby place like the Senate, social ostracism can be a real concern. From your experience, what role does social pressure on leaders play in their decision-making and how should leaders deal with it?

When I was Comptroller General of the United States, I came under intense pressure regarding my response to Vice President Cheney’s  failure to provide information in connection with the National Energy Policy Development Group. Republicans urged me not to sue the vice president and, when the case was dismissed for lack of standing at the District Court level, Democrats urged me to appeal. I ultimately decided to resist pressure from both parties and do what I thought was right.

I made these and other decisions based on a set of timeless principles and values, including performing my responsibilities in a professional, objective, fact-based, non-partisan and non-ideological manner. All leaders should have their own set of principles and values that they adhere to irrespective of any social or other pressures.  Ultimately, true leaders will do what they think is right even though it may not be popular.

With regard to the “Gang of Six” (G6), the social pressures they are coming under are largely driven by partisan and ideological considerations. These considerations have contributed greatly to the country’s deteriorating financial condition and fiscal outlook. The G6 and other elected officials need to realize that the time has come to put country over self and progress over politics. Our future depends on it.

View all panel responses to the discussion Under pressure?

David Walker  | Apr 26, 2011 10:20 AM

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