Gov. McDonnell Talks about the Importance of Strong Leadership in Speech Before Ripon Society Symposium at Mount Vernon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a keynote address this past Friday to a legislative symposium sponsored by The Ripon Society at Mount Vernon, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell talked about the importance of having strong leadership in America right now – leadership, he said, that not only “understands what our Founders put in place 235 years ago,” but is humble and results-oriented in its approach to the job and the many challenges we currently face.

“What I’ve learned over 21 years in office, and the last two as Governor,” McDonnell stated, “is how important leadership is. I think that’s the biggest issue, really, in this presidential election. To me it’s leadership. It’s fiscal responsibility, and economic development and job creation, protection of the free enterprise system. That is what this whole campaign, I believe, will turn on. Having a leader who really understands America, understands what our Founders put in place 235 years ago, understanding that it’s the free enterprise system — and not big government — that is responsible for America’s success. These are critically important principles, and ones I hope no matter what your job is in Washington that you don’t forget.”

McDonnell made this statement at The Ripon Society’s 2012 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon, which was held at the home of our Nation’s first President on Friday, February 10th. A group of nearly 200 senior policy and communications aides attended the day-long event, which also featured presentations by former Congressman and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, National Journal correspondent Major Garrett, and top members of the House Republican Leadership staff, among other political and legislative leaders. In his remarks, the Virginia Governor also discussed two other attributes that are essential for strong and effective leadership – being humble, and being focused on results.

“Part of being a leader is always doing the right thing even when somebody’s not looking. How many of you recently have read the book, ‘Good to Great?’ That and the new book by Jim Collins, ‘Great by Choice,’ study what differentiates a good leader from a great leader, and what differentiates a great corporation from just a good corporation. This may sound simple, but after 10 years of research by Jim Collins and looking at all these factors that went into what he calls the ‘level five leader’ — that is, the very top level of leaders that are really driving American corporations or have had marvelous turnarounds — he concluded that the ‘x’ factor was humility. How about that? It’s something you don’t maybe see too much of in Washington from time to time. But it’s exactly what makes the difference in a strong leader. Remember Ronald Reagan’s saying: ‘It’s amazing how many good things can happen if you don’t care who gets the credit.’ Well, that was his point — being ambitious for the good of the organization is a different type of leadership, and those are the people that really get the results.

“I don’t think there’s a more important thing that the American people are looking for right now than people who can get results. I call it results-oriented conservatism. We have our strong vibrant conservative principles and we can talk about them, but you know what? Talk is cheap. If you can’t get a budget done on time, and if you can’t get an unemployment rate under 8 percent, and if you can’t get a $15 trillion national debt starting to go the other way — then it’s cheap. It’s cheap talk. So you’ve got to talk about those principles, but you’ve got to put plans in action to actually get results and fix problems.

“I think that is what people are looking for. They want a government that’s working well, that’s limited and wise and frugal as Mr. Jefferson said, and then gets out of the way so they can use their God-given talents to pursue the American dream. I think that is what people are looking for in government and why I think we have a good chance to have some positive things happen in November.”

Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.