'Today the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As President and Commander in Chief I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. And I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer.'
- President Barack Obama announcing the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
President Obama begins a twenty minute explanation of a major decision by reminding his bosses - the American people - and the rest of the world, of his Widget:
'The security of the American people.'
He is saying 'There are many Widgets that may not be served by my decision and therefore as many critics of it. So when you're evaluating my decision and its criticisms, remember my Widget that you elected me to serve.'
He proceeds to explain to the American people and the world - his good decision making.
He's the most powerful person on earth - and yet unlike many lesser bosses - he doesn't rely on his positional power to get what he wants done.
He shows his working out. 'You may not agree with my decision,' he is saying, 'but at least you can see how I arrived at it.'
Most importantly the President is saying:
'I am going to share with you all the information that I have. I trust you - everyone from the Wall Street Banker to the farmer in Oregon - to be smart enough to see how I reasoned my way to this decision - as if you had been sitting alongside me at every table along the negotiating pathway to my decision.' That's a profound statement of both self-confidence and trust.
President Obama addresses four of the Five Steps to a Good Decision.
(We shouldn't expect any decision maker - particularly the President of the United States - to reveal her Step 1. To do so would risk undermining the purpose of the First Step: to allow the decision maker to purge themselves of emotions that may detract from her ability to address the decision on its merits. 'I ranted to the First Lady about how stubborn the Iranian leaders were and how political and pig-headed Congress is, and then had a couple of stiff drinks before watching a couple of episodes of West Wing followed by ten laps of the White House pool and several covert cigarettes in the Rose Garden while the Secret Service kept a look out. Then I went back to work making my decision.')
Step 2: Define the Issue. (Also the first job of a leader: Define reality.)
'By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb. And Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.'
In other words - 'My Widget, the security of the American people - wasn't being made.'
Step 3: Assess the Information.
'Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us, and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world's major powers: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China as well as the European Union.'
In other words 'I won't bore you with all the technical details in this speech, however other nations have looked at the same information that we did - and come to the same conclusions.'
Step 4: Check for Bias.
'In [my] conversations [with Congress], I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace. And they should be evaluated based on the facts, and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security.'
In other words 'I'm not doing this for my own ego or glory or to ensure my place in history. What better way to prove this than for me to argue my case before Congress and teach Congress the same lesson of objectivity.' (We teach best what we most need to learn. If we want to ensure we're not being biased, teach someone else how to rid themselves of bias.)
Step 5: Give a Hearing.
'Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance the deal. And I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.'
In other words 'Let me know if you've got anything to add to my thinking and the many decisions that still need to be made.'
President Obama began by defining reality. He concludes as all good leaders do - by saying Thank You.
'And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless — and I mean tireless — Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team. They have worked so hard to make this progress. They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.'