Unsung Melodies: This week’s events I didn’t write about

Apps for apesThis week I would have liked to have blogged about Barack Obama’s second inauguration; David Cameron’s long-awaited speech on Europe; blacklisting of employees; Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey; and iPads for Apes

President Obama’s inauguration

The UK, like the rest of the world, followed the inauguration. An estimated 40 million people watched [see the figures for Armstrong and Whitney, below]. A video of the 18 minute speech is available.

Initial reactions seem to be that the president will take steps to counter what he sees as obstruction to his policies by political opponents in the Senate. The speech signals this intention specifically on actions to preserve the environment, supporting human rights, and strengthening gun controls.

Prime Minster David Cameron’s European Speech

Meanwhile, over in Europe, Prime Minister Cameron makes what is considered his most committing political speech of his term in office. [23rd January 2012] His party’s stance on Europe will be built around a pre-election pledge for a post-election “in or out” referendum on membership of the European Community. The strategy appears to be a move to counter the rise of the anti-Europe UKIP party in the polls, and as a means of reducing trouble with his own anti-Europe MPs. He plans to renegotiate before the next general election [in 2015] to obtain changes in the EC and its arrangements with the UK. If successful. these will permit him to support a “stay in” vote in the subsequent referendum. A video of this speech is also available [via the BBC website]

Blacklisting of employees in the UK

This story is one which I believe will recur over the next few months, as a matter of corporate social responsibilities. Attention has been drawn to bullying and possibly illegal means through which organizations prevent employees from speaking out concerning their working conditions. The sanctions include the blacklisting of uncooperative employees from future employment. The examples suggest the practice has been widespread in some industries such as construction where part-time and supply work is common.

Lance and Oprah

The hero to zero story of Lance Armstrong played out as a full-blown televised confessional between Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey. It was watched by 28 million people worldwide. The charismatic figure considered the greatest cyclist of his generation once acquired cult status. Eventually he was revealed as a drug cheat who dragged his sport into disrepute. I like to describe leadership in terms of dilemmas. In chess terms, Armstrong moved not because he could or because he wanted to, but because he was forced to by a build up of stories against him.

Apps for Apes

Here’s a story which is fun and with animal rights implications. Apes like iPads. (Don’t we all?). The story was widely reported

The ‘Apps for Apes’ project came into being [in a Milwaukee zoo] because orangutans need constant stimulation – otherwise they become bored or depressed. Previous experiments have proved that the animals have an innate ability to use touchscreens.

‘The original idea came literally when Steve Jobs gave his opening presentation introducing the iPad,’ said conservationist Richard Zimmerman.

MBA student note

You may find a story for a leadership blog within these five items. Try to focus on a specific theme, and bring out its leadership implications around a critical incident.

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2 Responses to Unsung Melodies: This week’s events I didn’t write about

  1. Paul Ballington says:

    Blacklisting

    Tudor

    Several family business contacts were involved in senior roles in the Economic League. It would be interesting to research wider, but of those I am aware, their businesses developed a leadership method or type that stopped innovation and ultimately failed to secure success and very influential British businesses ultimately no longer exist.

    Believe that the threat to business overall is not the blacklisting but the leadership model that such behaviour creates. Then everyone seems to lose in the end, especially the shareholder whose value gets destroyed.

    So why does something that was used in the General Strike and to bring agricultural workers into the fledgling motor industry and by current totalitarian states, still attract current UK business leaders?

  2. Thanks, Paul.

    Blacklisting captures a leadership style which ignores unintended consequences of actions, and is as you suggest hisorically ineffective. I’d add it’s ethically bankrupt.

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