Obama, Hayward & Limbaugh — strange bedfellows…

I don’t “do” political posts. Here on my blog, in my newsletters, or even via twitter. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, it’s just that I don’t want to hear your opinion on my politics.

At least I’m honest about it…

Anyway, though President Obama and Rush Limbaugh are mentioned in this post’s title, this is not about politics. At least not in any partisan or traditional sense. It’s about leadership, and why perceptions matter — sometimes as much as facts.

I have a close friend, Randy Boek, a brilliant strategist who bills himself as a Professional Outsider, and is the founder and CEO of ROUTE 2, Inc. He was commenting on my most recent edition of At C-Level, my monthly newsletter. Here’s our email exchange:

Randy Boek:

Mr. B., you are the content king.

Great comments re: BP. As you know I am on the short list of folks who do not think Hayward is Satan in a suit. I guess he had to be the sacrificial lamb but Siberia! Good punishment for him saying in his speech at Stanford that he didn’t believe in training leaders.

Everything here recovers except the eleven lives lost and the related impact on families. Also tragic for some of those who rely on the Gulf for livelihood and have for generations. BP seems to be helping them.

I am fascinated by the science and engineering that has come to bear on solving this problem. The learning that has taken place. Also very interesting to already be getting stories about the resilience of the gulf.

BP is likely going to compensate unworthy “victims” simply to avoid the negative news of denial. Since the incident happened I agree that BP has set a model of accountability with some unfortunate PR gaffes.

Good work here my friend.



Boekster, thanks for the comments. Seems like it takes more and more mental bandwidth to provide something of value in these damn things (newsletters)…

Yeah, funny about Hayward; one of his first and biggest verbal gaffes was to say:
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil… is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

‘Course, he caught shit for that. Now, reports from President Obama’s administration are saying the vast majority of oil is “gone;” the scientists who know are saying:
“There’s just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster. … we’re not seeing catastrophic impacts. There’s a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it.”

Time Magazine even had a piece saying “Rush was right” (RL said at the beginning this was overblown), which had to hurt like hell. Limbaugh, of course, then said on-air that he was the “only reporter who always tells the truth.” You gotta love this sort of bullshit.

Sensationalism sells media, friend. Not news.

But in my mind, Hayward was “right,” though he was “wrong.” He was technically correct while not understanding the emotional involvement of his audience.

My grandfather used to tell me, when trying to cling to an untenable (e.g. “morally superior”) position “Boy, if you’ve got a green light and pull out in front of a Mack truck (all big rigs were “Mack trucks” those days), you’re “right.” And still dead.

He had a point – perhaps he should have shared that w/Hayward. Hope all’s well…


The lesson here isn’t whether anyone — ANYONE — mentioned above was right or wrong. No, the leadership lesson here is to pay attention to the environment from which you lead.

Charging in, guns blazing or dismissing concerns because of higher knowledge, both fit the category of leadership arrogance; this sort of behavior is seldom tolerated well, even by loyal followers and even if vindicated by accuracy later down the road.

You can be right. And still be dead.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann


  1. Anonymous says

    Important leadership lesson you call out here and thanks for the link. Funny how good comes out of bad and bad comes out of good. Guess that's the nature of reality. R

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