Leadership and Impartiality
Of all the leadership development lessons we can learn from the 2008 Presidential Elections, there is probably none so clear as how the lack of impartiality equates to poor leadership.
Interestingly, these lessons are not learned so much from the candidates –Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin most certainly lost their ability to remain neutral on any subject once they acquired their party’s nomination – as much as we can learn them from the media.
Not surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh leads the partisan bandwagon with his usual far-right banter, though he is more an actor playing a part than true political spokesman for either side. What is interesting about the 2008 Presidential Election is the utter inundation of left leaning liberals in the media who will stop at nothing to smear McCain and (especially) Palin without regard to their duties as journalists.
No single “journalist” – not Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or even Dan Rather – has ever gone so far over the line as MSNBC’s Keith Obermann. Obermann has literally redefined partisan journalism like no man or woman before him could ever dream of doing. Obermann has single-handedly moved the editors at AskTheManager.com from “undecided” to clearly in the McCain/Palin camp. We will, it seems, be voting for the Republicans in the November 4 election thanks to Keith Obermann.
What is most glaring about Obermann and his merry band (including some truly atrocious mud-slinging masculine woman whom we’ve never bothered to learn her name) is their unbelievable lack of humility as they pull Sarah Palin and John McCain through scrutiny that, while may be deserved, is more than 1,000 times the scrutiny they gave to Obama’s Reverend Wright controversy or Biden’s alleged plagiarism (not to mention a few hundred other inconsistencies and issues with the Obama/Biden ticket).
Where is the Leadership Lesson?
There is a leadership lesson here, and that is that impartiality can blind someone so much so that they begin to lose their focus on the goal. The goal of the Presidency is to better the United States of America, and the goal of the fourth estate (i.e., the press) is to impartially hold these leaders accountable.
Somewhere between his highly entertaining “Worst Person in the World” rants and his days at ESPN, Obermann stopped being an impartial reporter of the truth and became nothing more than a caricature of all that is wrong with the media today. He is so comically absurd that he makes Limbaugh seem like a serious journalist. He has moved so far into Obama’s camp that Michelle Obama should be concerned about whether he is sharing Barack’s bed.
When a leader does what Obermann has done, he or she no longer can decide what is best for their company. They fall into a fog of certainty that does not allow them to see the world as others see it.
A true leader can put aside their ego and their personal goals for the needs of the company and their team. They strive to see the world as it is, not as how they see it. Obermann, unlike anything that Limbaugh has ever attempted, has become a dog so rabid that he needs to be put down. There seems to be no cure for the Obermannia that runs amok on MSNBC today.
The good news is that we can all learn from Keith Obermann. While the editors of AskTheManager.com are all in agreement that we once loved Obermann as an anchor on Sports Center, he has become a buffoon of late, and we need to rethink how we interact with others based on his antics.
As leaders, we need to remember that the more we are certain of something, the more we need to check our opinions and look to others for guidance. True leaders know that when something is “common sense” and a “no brainer” they might be best served if they investigate a little further and get the input of others before taking their company or their country down a given path.
Obermann and his ilk seem to forget that their goal is to inform the public. Obermann, like Limbaugh, underestimates his listeners and assumes everyone will just follow blindly. The truth is that voters have brains and we tend to use them. We liked Obermann before this election, though we will make our own decisions, thank you.
Leaders Need to Lead, Not Preach
True leaders let those closest to the customer make the decisions. They lead, they don’t preach.
While the press will always have their slant, business leaders need to ensure that they are getting the facts, making decisions and moving their companies forward without involving their own feelings, beliefs or (especially) egos. It is critical that leaders in the new millennium make strong decisions based on what will drive the desired results and not what they feel will move their own agenda.
Clearly, Keith Obermann has forgotten what the goal of the press truly is, and because of this, he has become a bad joke. Business leaders should learn from this and ask themselves if, perhaps, they’ve become a joke.