Leadership Lessons from Mayor Bloomberg (and Other Emperors)
We’ve often written in this Leadership Development blog about the important traits for good leaders. From intelligence to character, we’ve worked hard to identify those qualities that can help young managers become leaders and older leaders regain their edge. Over the course of these posts, we’ve singled out integrity as a key leadership trait.
While the editors of AskTheManager all agree that integrity is critical, a few months ago we identified service as the most important trait for a manager or leader (to read our comments on service, follow this link). In that post, we wrote about the importance of service to one’s company, one’s customers and, especially, one’s subordinates.
We think New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have taken us too literally.
It seems The Honorable Mayor Bloomberg feels like the citizens of Metropolis need more Bloomberg – they not only want more of his service, they need more of his service. They need more of his service so bad, in fact, that Bloomberg plans to seek a reversal of the very law he so vehemently supported when Rudolph Giuliani was Mayor of New York.
Bloomberg feels he is the only person capable of leading New York City through the current economic crisis.
Integrity Rears its Ugly Head
While intelligence and many other leadership traits can be judged with a sliding scale, integrity is either yes or no; black or white – there is no middle ground for integrity. You either have it or you don’t.
The drive to remove term limits in New York City was shot down by voters in the 1990s. And even though the citizens spoke loudly (twice), Bloomberg plans to do an end-around on his beloved constituents and press for City Council legislation to overturn what voters have twice said they wish to keep. (It cannot go unwritten that these same City Council members would also benefit by lifting the term limits. How do you think they’ll vote?)
Is this New York City or Panama City? Are we talking about Manhattan or Moscow? All dictators can justify their suspension of Democracy and their rise to power by some political or economic “need” that they themselves identified.
Think we’re taking this too far? If Bloomberg can leverage this City Council to overturn what the voters mandated with this crisis, what’s to stop the next Mayor from circumventing democracy vis-à-vis the next City Council?
Where is your integrity Mayor Bloomberg? Do you lack the basic understanding of how and why our nation was founded? George Washington, the greatest Presidential Leader of all time, knew enough about the tyranny of kings to know he should stop at 8 years. Why is it you think you’re above the will of the electorate (and the law)?
This Mayor Has No Clothes
Would some brave sole please tell Mayor Bloomberg he’s naked?
There is a rare self-importance about Bloomberg that’s always made us uneasy to have him in the Executive Branch. Of course, it’s probably his unhealthy dose of narcissism that’s made him the successful businessman he is today. What’s most interesting is Bloomberg must truly believe that with all the financial minds in New York City, he is the only person qualified enough to help the five boroughs through this financial mess. A tad arrogant and certainly much confused.
This begs the question: if Bloomberg is the only person capable of leading New York City through this financial crisis, how did he allow it to happen in the first place? Remember, Michael Bloomberg was the Mayor of New York throughout all of this. (Hint: it’s not really a problem caused or solvable by the Mayor of a city.)
Lest we get all starry-eyed about Mayor Bloomberg’s ability to take decisive action to help us through this crisis, let’s remember that he’s not even all that decisive about what he believes. Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat, but he switched parties and was elected as a Republican in 2001. Although he was reelected as a Republican in 2005, he became a political independent in 2007 (reportedly in a quest to run for President).
We’re confused. Is he an Independent, a Republican or a Democrat? Which Michael Bloomberg is best suited to lead the poor folks of NYC through this mess?
One party switch we can understand, two and you’re just not very self actualized.
This is not just a New York Problem
Mayor Bloomberg, this is not just a New York City crisis; this is not solely an American crisis. What we face today is a global economic crisis. And our apologies to New Yorkers, but it’s not always about you. There are more than 295 million people in America and over 6.8 billion globally not living in New York City. Given this, Mayor Bloomberg believes he should compel fifty-one members of the City Council to select one man to save the world.
While we are adamantly opposed to term limits, we are more opposed to circumventing the will of the voters for political gain, and the disingenuous leaders who employ situational integrity to satisfy their own egos. Situational integrity is like situational pregnancy – it’s oxymoronic. Mayor Bloomberg, you cannot be a little bit pregnant.
If Michael Bloomberg really wants to help, he should offer his unique brand of assistance to the next Mayor of New York. (God knows there must be no other financial brains in left in the city.)