Leaders and Followers.
A corner stone of leadership* is constant, coherent and evidenced communications – based on stated and understood values of truth and love. So the responsibility of the leader is a profound one – what he or she says will be noticed by the followers and will influence their actions. The more powerful the leaders the more careful they need to be about how they manage the clarity or vagueness of their comments, and the more they need to manage their words.
Cornell researchers have fixed once and for all the influence of bad actors – peddlers of misinformation – in an iconic leadership study of the pandemic Cornell found by far the greatest recent force for misinformation was the current President of the United States. Out of 38 million articles reviewed, Mr Trump’s contribution made up nearly a shameful 40% of the misinformation. The leader of the free world is the largest purveyor of pandemic falsehood.
Clear, accurate and evidenced information is not only the signature of effective leadership, it is the foundation of a robust response to crisis. It builds confidence brick by brick and allows for an evolution of policy because the history and foundations are solid. Anything else means building on sand.
In the unique case of the leader of the free world capricious deviousness has a long lasting ripple effect. Castigating the CDC, subverting the advice of experts, or throwing out completely irresponsible misinformation does not just offer up the Presidency to self ridicule – it disrupts thinking throughout the world.
The Administration’s treatment of the pandemic is alarmingly just one example of its misleading use of language. The key challenges facing this nation today are Racism at home, China competition abroad, and Climate Change, the ultimate global threat. In all three cases this has been an administration that has spoken thoughtlessly for years and done so without robust evidence. It has been happiest destroying rather than building. It has shown no interest in the long term future of its people and certainly none for those outside its borders. America First has encapsulated a fascist insensitivity that has sporned copycat rhetoric amongst emerging despots from Turkey, to the fascist populists in France, Italy, Hungary and Poland. Our government has set an example for the worst to follow.
And in its communications it has sown seeds of destruction that could threaten the very nature of democracy itself.
It really is not the role of this column to play politics – but with just a few days to go, and, lest there be any misunderstanding, the conclusion of the last four years is a clear one – sell Trump and vote for anyone else!
Have a good day, James.
* To access James master class The New Leadership go to www.cookeleaders.com.