Biden and the Challenges of Leadership

Biden and the Challenges of Leadership

During the lead-up to Nov. 3, I had occasion for many phone calls outside the country. Some were to the Middle East, several were to the United Kingdom and, of course, a number were to my native Canada. Without exception, all my international compatriots were glued to coverage of the U.S. election. They could not get enough of it. I could think of no other foreign election that would matter as much to anyone, anywhere. What happens in America matters; our international presence matters.

When Joe Biden ascends to the Oval Office in January, he will be inheriting a divided nation in the depths of a pandemic-induced recession. His leadership style as commander-in-chief undoubtedly will unfold in the coming months, though in his address to the nation Nov. 7, we saw a leader who was refreshingly inclusive in his call for a united front.

Leadership is about setting a direction, building a vision that is a call to action and creating something new. It’s also about establishing trust. Strong leaders are dynamic, exciting and inspirational. Biden will need those traits as he and his administration face a myriad of issues, from micro to macro, domestic to global and tactical to strategic, but I anticipate three main areas of focus that will require strong leadership from our new president.

First, the economic downturn has some 11 million people unemployed, and one third of them have been out of work for at least six months. While this is a marked decrease from the spring, when 23 million were jobless at the April count, a multitude of small businesses and major retail chains have either closed shop or filed for bankruptcy. Since the end of 2019, the U.S. economy has contracted some 2.8%. Biden campaigned on a plan to infuse some $2 trillion into the economy to fix our infrastructure, and that is a wise move. The economy is a $20 trillion hungry beast, and it relies on an incredible network of roads and bridges, railways and ports, clean water and sewer systems. This infrastructure is old and much of it is crumbling, so Biden’s leadership challenge here is to cajole his old comrades in Congress to come together and work with him to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package. This will stimulate the economy and put people back to work. The beauty of this is that it can be done while interest rates are low.

Secondly, America is in dire need of a culture of inclusiveness. Political disagreements in America have become corrosive. With the help of social media, we shout each other down and display contempt towards those who disagree with us. Biden may be uniquely qualified to bring us together, for he is a man of fundamental decency — an important trait for a leader. A good start to establishing this “culture of inclusion” would be for Biden to select a couple of Republicans for his cabinet. Building this inclusiveness and convincing Americans to consider alternative perspectives will be, I believe, one of the biggest tests he faces as our leader.

Biden’s third leadership challenge is to ensure that America stands tall internationally, even as a movement in the U.S. asserts that the country should not get involved in matters or conflicts beyond our boundaries. Our own history shows us this assertion is wrong and dangerous. America took that stance in the early stages of World War II — as Hitler invaded countries and killed millions of Jews, the U.S. followed a wait-and-see approach. Pearl Harbor was the result.

After that war, a new world order was established, with the U.S. in the forefront. But today, very powerful, authoritarian regimes and fundamentalist movements — to name but two of the forces — have their tentacles embedded throughout the world, whittling away at other countries’ politics and industry with sabotage and spies, even interfering with U.S. presidential elections. The world order that developed after World War II must be preserved. America will ignore this at its peril.

In his impressive outreach to the nation Nov. 7, Biden suggested we give each other a chance. He is right. Continuing down a pathway of parochial self-interests will only weaken the mother ship and destroy the passion that has made America great. Biden’s ability as a leader will be put to the test. The country’s future—our futures—depend on him succeeding.


  • Michael Hare

    Very insightful and and strategic words

    November 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm
    • Michael great to hear from you ! Thanks for weighing in. Hope al is well In Point LePreai !

      November 11, 2020 at 11:00 pm
  • You’ve inspired me to look at previous cabinets’ members’ party affiliation and their impacts over single partisan ones.

    I’d like to hear your views on Supreme Court appointments in one of your essays.

    November 10, 2020 at 12:32 pm
    • Thanks Byron. Yes that would be a great subject for an article !

      November 11, 2020 at 11:01 pm
      • CVF

        * out for him !

        November 12, 2020 at 11:20 am
  • Claire Fracker


    I love the positivity you share in your article of the importance of The political parties of USA that it is a must and they should work together to improve relationships amongst the people internally and with other nations. USA was always a respected strong nation with great democratic values. It certainly will be a challenging job for President elect Biden and he does display a great love for his nation and the world. Thank you for sharing your article. I will certainly share it as it is worth the read and inspiring as well.

    November 10, 2020 at 7:58 pm
    • Claire so appreciative of having you always ready to opine ! Thank you for your insights.

      November 11, 2020 at 11:03 pm
  • Ginny Curry

    I agree with your analysis of what Biden’s agenda, hopefully, he’ll be able to achieve. From the many speeches I’ve heard of Biden’s, that is basically his plans. His biggest threat, from what I see is the ability to get Congress, especially The Senate, to work with him. We have a coalition of Senators that have a partisan agenda, as we seen in the Obama Presidency, and have openly said they would do this again. This is why we so need at this juncture to have at best, control of the Senate or at least a tie.
    I am in full agreement to have a Cabinet of both Parties and both genders. As it’s more than time, to throw partisanship out.
    Joe feels he’ll be able to work together with The Congress. Hopefully Congress will work with Joe, for the good of our country!!

    November 10, 2020 at 8:56 pm
    • Thank you Ginny ! And yes Biden has his work cut pit for him .

      November 11, 2020 at 11:04 pm
  • Dr. Carol D. Birks

    Chuck , I am inspired and motivated by this text. It definitely underscores that it is imperative for us to come together as a collective nation to demonstrate love and respect for each other regardless of race and party affiliation. Given the current state of our country, my prayer for President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris is that the country and the world will see them as lighthouses, in effect, beacons of light for others. Looking forward to hope and peace , and the way forward. Thank you, CVF for pushing me for some time of reflection.

    November 10, 2020 at 9:19 pm
    • CVF

      Thank you Dr. Carol !

      November 12, 2020 at 11:23 am
  • Lucy Nichol

    This a great article; and, I am sure echoing the views of many.
    I trust hope that it works out for our neighbour and friends..the USA.
    God bless you for posting such a great article.

    November 12, 2020 at 8:04 am
  • CVF

    Thank you Lucy !!

    November 12, 2020 at 11:22 am
  • Chuck,
    As usual your vision is spot on 20/20. The idea of inclusion rather than exclusion is exactly what is necessary to bring us back to a position of leadership not only here at home but worldwide. The jingoism of the outgoing administration only serves to the rapid downward spiral that we experienced in the last four years. If the world is to recover from this health crisis and environmental crisis , we must all pull together not in isolated patches.
    I believe in America. I believe in the America the unites not isolates. I believe that President Joe Biden can do the job but only with our support and the support of every child, woman and man, regardless of race creed or orientation.

    November 13, 2020 at 7:28 am
  • Ray Johnson

    I get the approach and hear similar themes from Biden/Harris. However, when I watch leading Republicans call into question the legitimacy of our election, and acknowledge more people, not less, supported trump in 2020, I honestly struggle with the “let’s reach out and understand the other side” theme. Over 4 years, we witnessed first-hand a president lieing on a scale never before seen, encourage racists, call for his opponents to be imprisoned, attack a Governor who was saved from a kidnapping and murder plot, and attack veterans, just to name a few. I can’t even begin to list all the damaging policies. So, I’m honestly waiting to see how the other side proceeds. I’ve been careful about not posting the most egregious memes about trump, but am appalled at the way the transition is going. Republicans are putting lives at risk. I can’t just turn a cheek on all of this.

    November 13, 2020 at 7:59 am

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