Let’s see. I’ve already talked about religion here, when I talked about how missions prepare Mormon men and women for leadership positions.
So why not talk politics, too?
Actually, I’ve been trying to find both communication and leadership lessons in what’s happening in Washington. Because I’m so disgusted by it all, it’s hard to separate the emotion from the business.
But I think I finally have it. And this is not about whose side of the fence you’re on. This is about both communication and leadership.
I live in Chicago. That immediately makes me an Obama fan. Even if you don’t agree with his politics, when he was elected, all of Chicago was on fire.
It was really fun living here that first year as they talked about where he and Michelle were eating and how they were spending their time when they came home.
We even rode our bikes, one Sunday afternoon, through Hyde Park to see the police surrounding his house, which is now a historical feature.
But what he did last week, for his 50th birthday, is not just astounding, it’s a poor lesson in leadership. And it’s a poor lesson in communication because we all know perception is reality.
Here is what I know:
- Obama is going to run for office again and the election is next year.
- Obama turned 50 and wanted to celebrate in his hometown. One plate at his dinner party was $35,800
- The most any individual can donate to a political party is $35,800.
- Last week marked one of our country’s biggest historical moments when Congress nearly put us into another Depression.
- Last week our credit was downgraded.
So, in order to take the emotion out, I thought about this as if I were his on his communication staff. Let’s even say I’m the first person he turns to, when it comes to communication.
This is the conversation I would have with him:
Mr. President, I love birthdays. You know this because I announce my birthday right after the first of the year and I count down until it happens. I think everyone should celebrate their birthdays in the biggest way possible. BUT. If you have your party in Chicago, no matter the reality of your needing to raise money for your campaign, the perception will be that you’re above what the rest of the country is experiencing with the debt ceiling and the possibility our credit will be downgraded. I know it’s been a long time since you’ve had to pay college loans, but 95 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Small businesses don’t have cash hoarded. It’s time to step up, be a leader, and show what you’re made of. Show Americans you are willing to sacrifice with them. We can delay your party and have it in a few months, when things settle down.
Maybe that conversation did happen and he chose, instead, to go ahead with his party. Maybe it was too late to cancel the thing, when he realized Congress didn’t yet have a solution. But I know that if I were advising him and he didn’t take this advice, I’d resign.