[July 12, 2017] Our behavior is constantly under observation. That is so because that’s how people learn about others and it’s both normal and acceptable. Despite the fact that we are humans and often make erroneous judgments, generally people are more right than wrong about drawing conclusions based on their observations of other human beings.
Leaders are more closely observed and senior leaders even more so. While politicians are not always a good example, I will use one today to make my point. The New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently went to Hamburg, Germany to attend a protest along with thousands who did so in a united stand against the G20 summit. He gave what is touted as an anti-G20 protest speech mostly on the subject of supporting diversity and openness and how we [the protestors] are the real voice of the people.
What did he miss at home in New York City? First, he missed Friday morning’s Police Academy graduation ceremony and Saturday’s mass vigil for a slain NYPD Police Officer. He also avoided addressing New Yorkers who got caught up in the recent large-scale failures of the subway system in the Big Apple.
These are real world events that today have real world effects on his citizens. By going to Germany and giving a speech, he is telling New Yorkers that they are not as important as his future political aspirations and their troubles are not on his list of priorities. He said that these are his concerns but his actions have spoken loudly.
The list of politicians whose behavior tells us about their values is non-stop in the news. Another is the Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton who made incendiary remarks about the police last year without first gathering the facts.1 Just a few days ago after the facts came in at a trial and acquittal of a police officer, he was wrong but nevertheless he doubled-down on those earlier remarks.2
I always believed that people are not stupid. When they see something stupid, it registers in their minds. When they see real leaders doing good things, they also know it. Regardless of educational level, race, gender … it does not matter, people are pretty smart overall. U.S. President Lincoln told us that “… you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Senior politicians are smart folks but why do they do stupid things remains a mystery. One would think that de Blasio and Dayton would go out of their way to behave in a way that clearly communicates what they value the most. In this an many other cases, I guess this is not in their intellectual make-up.
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