The Absent Leader

By | September 25, 2019

[September 25, 2019]  The U.S. presidential campaign by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is over.1  Like so many leaders of World War I variety, the NYC mayor made little effort to be present in the Big Apple when he was needed most.  Senior leadership is very difficult because the greatest challenge is being able to communicate to as many people as possible; preferably people see you in person.  Mayor Bill de Blasio is the epitome of what I call the absent leader.

Leadership means being present; it’s about knowing when to be at a critical point and at a particular time to ensure your presence will have the benefit.  This skill is more art than science.  A real leader can read the “tea leaves,” so to speak, to demonstrate that you are in charge and are not fearful, unknowing, or uncaring about what is happening.

Leaders are absent for a variety of reasons.  Rarely can a senior leader be around everyone.  When their authority stretches across vast geographic regions or extremely large numbers of employees or due to short-term commitments, the idea a leader can be everywhere is unrealistic.  What the best leader does is to place themselves in a position that the majority of people can see and hear.  The idea is effective communication of important messages and showing that the leader cares.

I use the example of NYC mayor Bill de Blasio today because he is a current example of a senior leader who has failed to show that he cares about people who elected him as mayor.  Running for the presidency of the United States is extraordinarily complex and, of course, time-consuming.  To do so is beyond my field of experience but de Blasio should have made an occasional appearance in the City via electronic means.  He did not do so.

The citizens of New York City – a tough group, I will admit – were quick to pick up on the idea that de Blasio didn’t care about them because being President was more important.  This is bad and any good leader would quickly act to quash such an idea.  It should have been a high priority.  When a political leader runs for another office, the old territory should not be abandoned.

The perception of not caring, fear, or ignorance is easily tagged as a trait, and one no leader can carry this without failure.  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio abandoned his voters and unintentionally failed them.  He should have known better.


  1. For those who have followed the more than 20 candidates, this will come as no surprise and may even be a mental relief to some.
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “The Absent Leader

  1. Jerome Smith

    Too many absent leaders in my life at work and in my community. Why so many think they can be gone and yet conduct their business is beyond my understanding.

  2. Georgie B.

    Just sitting back reading the comments from today’s article and enjoying myself. There is occassion that I like to see someone really get what they deserve and New York City’s people are getting what they deserve by electing this “progressive” nincompoop. Why don’t new yorkers elect someone again like Giuliani? Why don’t the elect someone who is reasonable and uncorruptable? The answer is that they love themselves too much and they agree that they are superior to everyone else. By voting for de Blasio they can bask in the sun of “we are better than you.”

    1. Tomas Clooney

      Thoughtful reply. I agree that any peoples who think they are superior to others (morally, racially, physically, etc) are setting themselves up as EVIL.

  3. Bryan Lee

    Loved today’s article. I especially like the use of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as the pushpin doll. He deserves being tar and feathered for his corruption, enriching himself and his family, ignoring big problems in the city, and being gone all the time (at taxpayer expense). He is not just an “absent leader,” he is a nut in political clothing. And to top it all off, he believes he is morally superior to everyone else. That is dangerous.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Spot-on note, Bryan. I will reinforce your point about him believing in his own superiority to the rest of us. That makes him like all the 20th century dictators who were responsible for millions of deaths. This wanna be dictator will soon be out of office. Thank god.

  4. Max Foster

    The challenge for any leader is ‘connecting’ to your people. The higher up in the chain of command (more senior level management), the more difficult it is to do so. You have just many more people and they are likely spread out over vast geographic areas. Getting around to them can be difficult, like a military General getting around to his troops in combat. But the greatest leaders do it anyway.

    1. Walter H.

      As always, a good analysis. Max, you’ve done it again with your insight. Thanks.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      Just as an example, look at how the US presidential candidates are crisscrossing the country to contact with potential voters. They understand this! After they are elected is another story and explains, in part, why politicians are so despised.

  5. Dale Paul Fox

    Terrible mayor,! Even the hyperliberals who live here don’t like him very much.

    1. The Kid 1945

      But de Blasio continues to trash the United States and yet when he doesn’t like something that he sees as not good for us, he bans it. That is why he banned plastic straws, large sugary drinks, and so on. Yet, he cannot get his act together to reduce a rising crime rate. And, he blames rising crime on the ‘racist’ police.

      1. Yusaf from Texas

        You got it. He’s torn between the hyper-liberals and the moderates. He can’t make up his mind. Everyone now sees him as just “blowing with the wind”. Whatever is popular as a political position, he takes. Sad.

      2. Ronny Fisher

        He is white and married a black woman. That puts him high on the progressive political agenda.

      3. Harry Donner

        You gotta love this guy! He will suck anybody to get a vote. And, he’s making himself and his buddies rich by doing it.

        1. Janna Faulkner

          Your killing me, Harry. Thanks for a little humor. You just made my day. I think I’ll be quoting you when I go to work later today. Just another boob in the Donkey Party.

  6. Eric Coda

    NYC Mayor de Blasio has been a terrible mayor. From his earliest days as mayor (not plowing snow from the streets in neighborhoods voting against him) to corruption in his administration and with him, he has let down the citizens of the Big Apple.

    1. Mikka Solarno

      If we only knew what he was like before being elected. As a New Yorker I’m both embarrassed and pissed off.


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