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Management Lessons In Political Scandals

Quick Summary

I love a juicy political scandal. That's probably why I'm so obsessed with politics. While other kids at school anxiously waited to turn 18 so they could drive, drink, and party, I was looking forward to 18 so that I could vote.
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Within every political scandal, there's a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it's a simple lesson about life, such as not enticingly placing your hand under someone else's toilet cubicle, as US Senator, Larry Craig, crudely learned last year. Or perhaps it's a lesson about finances, such as not accepting thousands of dollars in brown paper bags, for which Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is currently in training. And then there are the lessons about management, which we're fortunate to find in our very own home-grown scandals.

Iguanagate: Not since Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear has there been such an enthralling public duel. In one corner we've got the Belinda Neal team hungrily biting off more than they can chew. In the other corner we're got the staff of Iguanas, steadfastly standing by their statutory declarations.

The management lesson here is that perception is everything. Neal's reputation for being a bully with a short temper inspires resentment rather than inspiration. The images of Neal's stern scrunched-up face all over the newspapers do nothing to help her cause. As a manager of people, always keep in mind how you're perceived by those you work with, and watch what you say and how you say it. Neal's famous line, "Evil thoughts will turn your child into a demon", makes the claims being levelled against her all the more plausible. Her Prime Ministerial ambitions are now as promising as Cheryl Kernot's. Your managerial ambitions could be just as dire if you're perceived to be anything less than a people-person.

Chair-sniffing: It bothers me when people say, "I don't have any regrets". If you're one of those people, stop lying to yourself. Admit it and move on. Everyone has regrets. For example, WA's Opposition Leader, Troy Buswell, would most certainly regret a period of 10 minutes back in 2006 when he sniffed a female staffer's chair twice, while groaning in mock ecstasy.

The management lesson is to be open and honest. Initially, Buswell was neither of these. When the allegations were first aired, he refused to confirm or deny the allegations. At one press conference alone, he made the same comment thirteen times that he would not respond to "unsubstantiated, anonymous rumours". Days later, he was in tears admitting that his nose did in fact get the better of him. My advice for you: admit your management mistakes early on and you'll find people will support you. Try to cover them up and you'll be made to sit on the naughty chair.

Fake pamphlets: One day in 2007, working families in the federal sear of Lindsay were battling along as usual, when they received a pamphlet from the non-existent Islamic Australia Federation - an organisation which purported to show Christians the 'glorious path to Islam'. The pamphlet outlined its support for the ALP, it claimed that Labor had forgiven the Muslims who'd been 'unjustly sentenced to death for the Bali bombings', and that Labor backed the construction and government-funding of a new mosque.

It was a clever little scheme hatched by five Liberal Party wannabe-influencers who just weren't clever enough. They lost their precious seat, one of them lost his marriage, and all of them lost their standing in the community. The management lesson is to... play fair. If you're a master at office politics, give it up. If backstabbing is your talent, get a hobby. If smear campaigns are all you have to get ahead, get educated. But don't just take it from me. In his resignation letter to the Liberal Party, the main culprit, Greg Chijoff, described his actions as deeply embarrassing and morally stupid. How true.

Petrol leaks: FuelWatch - Kevin Rudd said yes. But Martin Ferguson said no - privately, just not private enough. Petrol excise cut - Brendan Nelson said yes. But Malcolm Turnbull said no - privately, just not private enough. Emails were leaked, letters were leaked, and the policies themselves were exposed for being full of leaks. And our beloved and beleaguered leaders were humiliated, scrutinised, and torn to pieces by a salivating media who took their claws to the obvious flaws in the short-term policies.

The key management lesson is to be... logical. Anyone with half a brain knows that the only solution to the petrol crisis is to wean thirsty Australians off their high dependence on the mean black stuff. But instead, our politicians talk about shaving off a measly 2 cents to 5 cents a litre. How insulting. So, be logical. Don't insult your employees' intelligence. Listen to their ideas - they could be smarter than you.

Sure, our politicians may lie, hide, and try to deny, but no matter how they make you feel, always keep your eyes open because in their failures are our saviours.

This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ James A. who travels from Sydney, Australia. James is available for Professional Speaking Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

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