Rebuilding the Supply Chain of Foreign-Affairs Leaders
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The United States is fighting the war on terrorism on many fronts, at home and abroad, on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, and through a dense thicket of public, private, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental partnerships. It must have leaders who bring talent, creativity, judgment, and courage to the task. Unfortunately, September 11 revealed significant weaknesses throughout the "supply chain" of talented foreign affairs leaders. This paper addresses the question, How can the nation's educational institutions add value as these future leaders pass through their training? The paper finds that government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations share a common need for leaders with general cognitive strengths such as problem solving and analytical ability; strong interpersonal and relationship skills, tolerance for ambiguity, and adaptability; and personal traits such as character, self-reliance, and dependability. To address these common needs, the paper suggests the following: o The first step in rebuilding the supply chain of foreign affairs leaders is to reject the one-career-fits-all approach. o The second step in embracing the new foreign affairs service is to work with colleges and universities to break down the stovepipes that characterize contemporary education. o The third step is to give current members of the foreign affairs service access to the kind of training and development experience needed for reacting to new foreign policy issues.
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