Lax Leadership

By curious coincidence investigations into two recent scandals – one in England, one in the U.S. – found that those in charge were sorely lacking. It’s similarly a coincidence that those in charge got away with a slap on the wrist at most.

In the Jimmy Savile sex abuse case, “rigid management chains” reportedly left the British Broadcasting Corporation “completely incapable” of dealing with the recent crisis that tarnished the network. There was no charge of a cover-up. But the report did describe a “chain of events that was to prove disastrous for the BBC.” Not good.

Yet the price paid by the BBC’s senior executives for their “disastrous” mismanagement was minimal to nonexistent. Some got off the hook completely, while others resigned or were reassigned, none seriously suffering, certainly not financially. In response to charges in some quarters that such meager punishments did not fit the crime, the CEO of the BBC trust told an interviewer that while management problems had to be addressed, they did not call for “putting heads on spikes.”

As the result of an independent report that criticized the “grossly inadequate” security in Benghazi, where four Americans were killed on September 11, four State Department officials were removed from their posts. They were charged with a “lack of proactive leadership” and a “lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.” However, for reasons that escape me entirely, the report did not criticize more senior officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Patrick Kennedy, the Under Secretary for management. So they, like their senior counterparts at the BBC, have not so far had to pay any obvious price for falling down on the job.

Funny, I seem to remember learning about leadership that those at the top are ultimately responsible. When things go well, they get the credit. When things go badly, they get, or they take, the blame. Maybe I remember wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *