Dr. Mike Patterson

Leadership Lessons I Learned in the White House with Darrell Williams

Episode 2

In this episode, White House Communications Agency Hall of Famer, Darrell Williams, shares leadership insights gathered while working in the White House during the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. The White House Communications Agency provides assured global information services to the President, Vice President, and others as directed, ensuring the White House is able to communicate with anyone, under any condition. Darrell Williams was determined to be one of the best to ever serve there. Listen in as Darrell talks about how in moments of crisis or great difficulty (like the aftermath of 9/11), your team members need to know that you care about them before you ask them to do anything. Once you have established your concern for their wellbeing, people will be ready to take on the toughest tasks. That’s the “people always” part of the equation. Important missions bring stress. It’s the nature of the job. In order to manage the stress, trust your training (i.e., Do what you’ve been trained to do in those situations), always plan for contingencies, and be willing to find out-of-the-box solutions. Take ownership of the issue and take initiative to find a solution.

When mistakes happen–and they inevitably will–empower people to take action and find a solution, make decisions, and move forward. The need to complete the mission does not change because something went wrong. If it’s someone else’s mistake, show grace when you can (i.e., don’t seek to embarrass or make an example of the mistake) and make the experience an opportunity for them to learn. Highlight the learning and the creative solutions that were discovered.

Advice for success: Find a need (in your organization, family, community). Address the need using your talents and strengths. Repeat as long as there are needs in the world (you'll never run out of opportunities). You’ll feel better about yourself, make a difference in people’s lives, and learn along the way.

For more resources check out the links below!

Some of the big ideas from this episode include:

Find a mentor – someone who has more experience than you do Seek out those who are at the top of their game Be eager to learn from the best Ask questions. Stay curious. Raise the bar continuously

Leadership Lessons I Learned in the White House with Darrell Williams