[September 5, 2019] For those following the U.S. presidential campaigning, you probably overlooked some of those doing poorly in popularity polls. I’m looking at them because they tell us something of value. What they are doing says what NOT to do as a leader.
Take, for example, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. I’ll be using his behavior as an example from which we can gain enormous value in our study of leadership. Bill de Blasio is the only one of more than 20 Democratic contenders for the presidency and is also a current large-city mayor. This position gives de Blasio credibility in the presidential race because he is actively involved in major leadership decision-making day to day.
What are those things he is doing (or not doing) that can show us how not to be a good leader? If you want firsthand information on what he thinks are his biggest assets, the go to his presidential candidate website. It can be found here. I am, of course, no expert on running for president, nor will I ever be. But from his website and from what others are saying about him (there is a pattern), we can learn a lot.
- His message is unclear. Great leaders have clarity of vision, intense focus, and communicate their intentions well. Whether it be setting expectations or building coalitions, a senior leader must be capable of drawing people to his side because they believe what the leader stands for. De Blasio message is that he will be “a president who puts working people first.” Okay Bill, what does that even mean?
- He lacks moral courage. We all know blowhards and fake leaders when we hear them. Their positions shift with the winds and it is difficult to pin them down. In NYC, de Blasio refused to take a stand on several issues because they were too “controversial.” He simply didn’t want to offend someone. Nope, you’ve got to stand up for what is right; even if it’s unpopular.
- He doesn’t pull people together. De Blasio is known as a person who loves “diversity” and accepts all comers to his city. While this is what he says, reality says something different. He doesn’t rally people to a cause (I’m unsure he has a cause) or support those who rely on him to be present at important times.
- He doesn’t have your back. Just ask the NYPD if he has their back. Too many times, he’s thrown his cops under the bus for political expediency. De Blasio has also allowed residents to disrespect police officers on the streets by not addresses the fact that his police are some of the best in the world. He would rather take credit for their work and, at the same time, blame them for anything that goes wrong.
- Being careless with his words. At a recent visit to the Miami airport this past June, he met with striking airport workers. He declared “Hasta la Victoria, siempre.” The problem is that this was the battle cry of communist Che Guevara, the murderous revolutionary. At least de Blasio got the Spanish right unlike some other presidential contenders. He also made disparaging remarks about his own city; that the reason so many racial minorities are arrested in NYC is because the criminal justice system is racist.
I could go on but I think this is a good starting list of how NYC mayor Bill de Blasio fails to be a great leader, or just a good leader. He is showing us what not to do. And I thank him for that.
Note: I’ve written a number of articles on Bill de Blasio. The latest one, “The New York City Exodus” is especially enlightening and reinforces today’s article. https://www.theleadermaker.com/the-new-york-city-exodus/