As cabinet members and advisors debated various issues, there was a reason why Ronald Reagan reached for the jellybeans.

Photo of jellybeans of dozens of different flavors and colors

It was Reagan’s management style to listen to his advisors argue all sides of an issue. With no shortage of egos among these strong-willed and talented people, things could sometimes get heated during these discussions and debates. At these moments, Reagan was likely to sift through the assorted jellybeans searching for his favorite flavor, licorice.

Collecting Opinions from the Non-Specialists

Reagan encouraged comments from all of his advisors, even if the issue at hand did not fall within the boundaries of their particular specialty. And, he welcomed dissent from anyone who had reservations about particular policies. He wanted any concerns to be voiced.

During these discussions, Reagan would largely keep his own opinions to himself, being very careful to avoid stifling or curtailing the perspectives of other people in the room. He just kept working those jellybeans!

Decision Time!

After that, as Reagan said in his autobiography, An American Life, “We never took a vote. Everyone pitched in and was involved in the give and take of debate, but when the discussion was over, they all knew it was up to me and me alone to make the decision.”

Some might have taken Reagan’s interest in the jellybeans as a sign that he was detached from the conversation. On the contrary, his method of remaining silent and listening closely to the various ideas of everyone at the table, allowed him to discern all of the information needed to make good decisions. And it created good morale amongst his troops, who knew that their opinions were being carefully considered.

So get yourself a jar of jellybeans!

To learn more about the leadership style of Ronald Reagan, visit my website.

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