Category Archives: Lessons in Leadership

Oscar Munoz – Lessons In Leadership

“To perceive is to suffer” – Aristotle

One of the greatest tools, if not the greatest tool, in a leader’s tool box is empathy. It allows a leader to see, hear, and feel what others feel; allowing that leader the ability to effectively communicate with their team or anyone else. This tool is most effective in a crisis situation where most people aren’t sure what they should do or even say. Empathy allows a leader to see what is truly going on and to speak to the emotions of their listeners.

EmpathyThis is where, in my opinion, Mr. Munoz has room to grow. His initial statement was one of distance both from the incident and the public’s perception of the incident. Regardless of all the other factors, a leader must understand how others feel. It is my opinion, based on his initial statement, that Mr. Munoz did not have this understanding; he should have thought through how the customer who was dragged off the plane felt, how the other three customers who were voluntold felt, how those witnessing the incident in person felt, how those who were watching the video online felt, all of this before he crafted and gave his statement – not because United was in the wrong, but because the responsibility to manage and maintain the company’s image and effectively their profits during this time stops with him!

Had Mr. Munoz placed himself in all of these positions (again, I’m assuming he did not) and allowed himself to feel what others felt, he undoubtedly would have crafted a different initial statement and not been under such scrutiny. To make matters worse, Mr. Munoz’s follow-up statement seems more reactive than genuine; there is a sense of damage control felt in between the breaths it takes to read them. When we truly empathize with others who are suffering, our words focus more on them then they do ourselves – have you read Mr. Munoz’s follow up statements to the incident?

Read The Washington Post’s take on the irony of Mr. Munoz being nominated communicator of the year!


Tagged , , ,

Manning & Newton – Lessons In Leadership

Franking quote on reputation #reputation #character #quote

While it maybe unfair, it is leadership

A leader’s good reputation is not built by an individual, impressive moment, but rather by consistent and consecutive impressive moments. It is these moments that frame who we believe our leader to be; it is these moments that filter our perception, and if a leader has stayed true to who he said he is, and who we believe him to be, then we are willing to follow and defend him.

But what happens when a leader, who has had so many consistent moments of greatness, has a moment of failure? Our society and culture today are those of extremes, we acquit or execute all before the trial. However, that is the price of leadership. Right or wrong a leader’s hard-fought reputation is undone with a single action. Just look at both Cam Newton and Peyton Manning for examples.

All year long Cam Newton was a one man highlight reel. Giving children touch down footballs, having a different dance or handshake for each task accomplished, or even his victorious “dab.” The media couldn’t get enough of him, and fans ate up every moment of his flash and swagger. Cam Newton’s Panthers stroll to Super Bowl 50 with a regular season record of 15 and 1, and have the NFL’s most electrifying offense, one the Media has dubbed, Cam’s offense. And then the unthinkable happens, the man who has a dance for every occasion is left with out a reason to boogie. For most fan’s outside of the Carolina’s, they’re OK with that. Cam is a young quarterback and has plenty of time to win the big game – and Manning gets to go out, presumably, on top. Fast forward through all of the confetti and awkward Bud references to the post game interviews. Cam, who has been all smiles all season, has no reason to smile. He has lost. He came ever so close, and lost. Bombarded with questions about his decisions through out the game and why his team couldn’t win, Cam just gets up, announces he is done, and walks out. In this moment, every dance move, every football tossed to a kid, and every smile flashed after a game are all forgotten. Cam’s inability to “Man Up” and face the hard questions have now defined his entire season.

The other Super Bowl 50 quarterback had a different post game experience. Peyton Manning, thought of as one of the classiest players in the NFL lived up to that expectation. Every reporter who spoke with Manning as soon as the game was finished asked the same question: “are you going to retire,” and rather than make that moment about him and his legacy, Manning politely excused the question and put the focus back on his Denver Bronco team mates. It wasn’t until a week after Super Bowl 50 that an allegation against Peyton Manning, while he was in college that had seemingly been buried, started to resurface. Allegations of sexual abuse, slander, lying, and bullying – all from the NFL’s perfect Peyton. No one is asking if Manning will retire, the only question anyone is asking is “can this be true?” “is this really our Peyton Manning?”

Whether a public moment for all of the world to see at the end of your season, or a private moment at the beginning of your career – all it takes is one moment to tarnish the reputation you spent a season, or even a career, building.



Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Lessons in Leadership: Sterling & Silver

Higher = More Visible

Higher = More Visible

There is a direct correlation between a leader’s level in an organization and his visibility. The further “up” you are, the more visible you become. 

This may seem like a common sense statement, but some leaders do not either realize how far this visibility goes, or they forget.

When Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, announced that Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, was banned for life from the LA Clippers and essentially the NBA, this truth was extremely evident!

In a tape released by TMZ, Donald Sterling was recorded by an ex-girlfriend, expressing racist remarks and points of view. Here is the thing, these remarks were made in a private phone call! Just because he said these things in private  doesn’t mean that they would not be exposed. A leader’s visibility is not determined by what he says or does in public, it is determined by what he says and does period!

Commissioner Silver understood this truth when deciding Sterling’s punishment. He knew America was watching, and he knew that what ever he decided, it would be seen, heard, and picked apart by all. While Silver’s words and actions were public and Sterling’s were in private, a leader can never underestimate the power of their visibility no matter where they are!

What are some other examples you’ve seen concerning a leader’s visibility?

Tagged , , , , ,