SUSIE GHARIB: Tonight’s commentator has some thoughts about leaders during the financial crisis. He’s Bill George, former chairman and CEO at Medtronic and author of “Seven Lessons for Leading in a Crisis.”
BILL GEORGE, AUTHOR, “7 LESSONS FOR LEADING IN CRISIS”: There is nothing quite like a crisis to test your leadership. It will make or break you as a leader. The economic crisis of 2008 was the worst in 80 years. Just a year ago the world’s financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. Starting with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, things went from bad to worse. Even strong institutions were at risk. This crisis brought down many leaders and their institutions with them. Into that breech stepped two government leaders to save our system: Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Facing unprecedented challenges, they were determined to avoid another depression. Many things they tried didn’t work, but they never gave up. Eventually, their actions stabilized financial markets. A year later we are still facing crises over jobs, health care, and the environment, but the financial crisis is largely behind us. No doubt the Monday morning quarterbacks will argue they could have done it all better, avoided the pitfalls and used less government intervention. I disagree. These pundits weren’t in the thick of the battle. We were lucky Paulson and Bernanke were there and had the courage to face reality and continually adapt their strategies to save our system and our country. Like most of us, I don’t like government intervention. But in this case we should be grateful to these determined leaders who were willing to do whatever it took to rescue our country from fiscal destruction. In this crisis, they proved to be great leaders. I’m Bill George.