Richard Holbrooke Dies

Richard Holbrooke, currently the State Department’s diplomatic troubleshooter in Afghanistan and Pakistan, died suddently yesterday of a torn aorta.  The nation owes a lot to Holbrooke.  Peacekeeping missions, US Representative to the United Nations, AID worker and an aide to Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., participant in the Paris peace talks of 1968-69, editor of Foreign Policy, columnist for the Washington Post and author of two books are just some of his career long contributions.  Holbrooke also made millions as an investment banker on Wall Street.In an earlier blog on Holbrooke entitled Holbrooke, the Amazing Manager, I referred to an article by George Packer that I suggested was one of the finest descriptive analyses of a bureaucrat that I’d ever read.  Lest you think this is one liberal congratulating another liberal, I also commented on David Frum’s exceedingly positive review as well.Those who have read Holbrooke’s works and know of his style recognize that though he is a brilliant guy (and an outstanding mentor to many State Department employees), he also has a reputation for being an “abrasive infighter with a formidable arsenal of facts, bluffs, whispers, implied threats, and when necessary, pyrotechnic fits of anger.”  In other words, he also had the ability to be a calculated, strategic asshole when the situation required it.  That’s a necessity. In still another blog, Zuckerberg and the Social Network, I pointed out that effective leaders have an extensive repertoire  of traits and characteristics, not the least of which is the ability to manage and deliver calculated anger.  Authentic leadership is an ethical, moral and character-diverse set of competencies. There’s a lot to be learned from Richard Holbrooke and his interaction with the world.  It’s learning that will be especially valuable for those of you who intend to achieve highly in your own career. 
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