People in leadership need handlers

As I watch with unsurprising bemusement, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, routinely is in the newspapers with actions or words that reflect a consistent lack of good judgment. Apparently, there is a lot of fodder in his history just as PM, that begs the routine question, “who on earth told you that was a good idea?” But, maybe that is the problem – the PM like others in leadership positions need a “handler.”

I recognize this is supposed to be one role of their Chiefs of Staff or whatever title said person has, but that person is not enough. There needs to be someone who has a watchdog role that can step in and say “that would be a very unwise move.” Boris, among others, would benefit greatly from such a person. Yet, Boris would need them to be doing a lot of overtime, as he has a wont to expound on things.

Boris is compared to the former president of the United States, but as one reporter said yesterday, they are not alike, but swim in the same cesspool. The numerous books and articles about Donald Trump paint a very untruthful and mercurial person to work for. This is a key reason he has so much turnover – people leave or get fired for getting on his wrong side.

Mercurial is a good word as Trump staff’s trying to manage him is akin to trying to hold Mercury in your hands – it is not possible. The more reputable books about Trump indicate a person who to sway him, you want to be the last person to talk with him. They are the Trump whisperers. Sadly, those Trump whisperers are not handlers as much as manipulators. Trump needs before, during and after the White House a handler to tell him not to attack everyone and stop opining on things that don’t matter. Plus, the person could be his fact checker telling him that something he is saying is not in the ballpark of being accurate.

Every leader would benefit from a handler, but there are some who would benefit greatly whether they are elected Downunder, in South America or in eastern Europe. I am setting aside the autocratic type leaders as their caretaking is a whole different matter. The handler would ask key questions hopefully before the action occurs:

-is calling someone a “loser” or “idiot” the best argument?

-is pretending to know a subject matter when you obviously do not the best thing to do?

-is opining on the entertainment news of the day something that in your position should be doing?

-is now the best time to take a vacation when people are in a bad way?

-if this got out in public, is this something you could defend?

-do you honestly think anything these days can be kept out of social media?

-the best closing argument would be “you could do that, but it would make you look like an effing idiot.”

Handler. It would be a tough job. Especially when the boss is his own worst enemy.

Friday follies

I hope you have had a great week. Since there are several issues bouncing around inside my head, here is a summary review of the follies for the week.

The Brexit clock keeps ticking while the British parliament keeps placing their collective thumbs in their more southern orifices. A second Brexit vote would likely end with a different conclusion, but it would take more time than they have and would involve another decision by an uninformed public. Let me give Parliament its out, but it will take more courage than they have. They should either accept May’s terms or vote to remain. I would urge the Brits to remain, as I would hate to see Northern Ireland and Scotland leave the UK.

Here in the US, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to 47 months in prison. While a much lighter sentence than many felt, he does have another sentence coming in another court. If Trump is as innocent as he proclaims, with the guilt of Manafort and other Trump associates, Trump is not very good at judging friends and associates. Yet, as I have witnessed time and again as a consultant, an organization takes on the personality of its leader. So, if subordinates are guilty of lying, cheating, and criminal behavior…

China’s slowing economy is impacting orher countries as expected. It was reported yesterday that China is buying less from abroad and using those dollars internally. The US trade deficit with China has grown not lessened the past year. And, the EU banks have softened economic projections as a result. What continues to surprise me is how little the US President understands how trade deficits and tariffs work. This may be the best metaphor of his Presidency as economics were supposed to be his strength.

Finally, populists are popping up in more countries in greater numbers. To me, a name that implies a broader appeal should not give greater license to spread hate and bigotry. In spite of all of our many faults here in the US and some leaders who need to find a conscious, we have benefitted greatly from being a melting pot. Diversity is a strength. I fully understand the need to govern the numbers of people immigrating in, yet painting all newcomers as evil, is not appropriate. What frustrates me is issues over immigration should be fact-based and reflective of the country’s mores and ideals and not sold on fear.

That is all for now. I know I have overlooked a great deal. Have a great weekend.