Friday, January 26, 2007

Failed Leadership

Nine years ago today, we witnessed a classic example of how not to lead, when then U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to the press about rumors of infidelity. Here are a few lessons in Leadership 101...
  • Maintain your moral character/authority (i.e., don't cheat on your wife).
  • Tell the truth, even if the truth hurts.
  • When mistakes are made, come clean, repent, and repair the damage.
Clinton disappointed even his most ardent admirers, and those who still admire him today wince when they review this episode. Even a person as gifted and as charismatic as Bill Clinton can fail miserably if these simple lessons aren't learned and lived.


Brett Probert said...

He might actually make a good UM pastor!

Anonymous said...

Silly, incorrect and uninformed blog.

Clinton was a man who made mistakes and did in fact seek forgiveness for those mistakes. It's a shame that folks on the extreme right can not forgive a man who asked for forgiveness. Those who forgive do not constantly throw this sort of thing out as you have.

At any rate, he remained a competent leader throughout the extremist effort to remove him for his personal failings. He led our country in to economic prosperity and relative international peace...hardly signs of failed leadership. Despite his personal failings he remained a leader, and today is only chastised by the un-Christlike extremists that are unable to forgive.

Would that we had a man with half Clinton's leadership now, we wouldn't be in such a national mess and wouldn't be such a divided people.

Keith H. McIlwain said...

Any leader worth his or her salt would agree that three keys in leadership are moral character, truthtelling, and honestly dealing with mistakes. Bill Clinton erred in all three of those keys; that's hardly news. That's leadership failure. This isn't to say he doesn't have gifts (he does) or that he never did anything good (he did), but in terms of "Leadership 101", he taught us what not to do, and that's a big part of his legacy. Why is that controversial? Y'gotta take the bad with the good.

Anonymous said...

1) Moral Character - While adultery is certainly not a sign of good morality, we as christians must allow the sinner to atone for that flaw. Clinton apologized both publicly and, most importantly, privately. He and his wife have worked on their marriage through both counseling (together) and pastoral care (generally Bill, alone). They did the right thing...they stuck together. That takes strong moral character. Far-righties tend to point to the sin rather than the atonement. Sad.

2. Truthtelling - There is one issue Clinton lied about. And the fact that he lied to the American people is largely not the issue. The issue is that he lied to his spouse (and daughter). While far-righties try and claim he lied about much more, it's all been venom spewed with no evidence. As he made atonement for the lies regarding his personal flaws, we as christians are to take him at his word.

3. Honestly dealing with mistakes - He has. While he wasn't quick to do so, the speed with which one seeks forgiveness is unimportant; the seeking itself is the thing. He admitted his flaws. He apologized. He did right by those hurt by his flaws. This was the christian thing to do. But far-righties don't want to see that; they preach that we should do the christian thing but don't accept it when a man does.

Part of being a strong leader is in accepting when you make a mistake and seeking appropriate forgiveness and atonement for that mistake. Clinton has done that, and Americans see that. Leadership experts see that. The world sees that. Only the extremists on the far-right don't.

Keith H. McIlwain said...

I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've said, but none of it erases the fact that, as the blog post originally stated, "...we witnessed a classic example of how not to lead." That will never, ever change, and that is a big part of Bill Clinton's legacy. Trying to make amends later is a good thing, but that can never erase what had already happened.

Brett Probert said...

Do I have to stop this car and separate you two?

John said...

Moral Character - While adultery is certainly not a sign of good morality, we as christians must allow the sinner to atone for that flaw. Clinton apologized both publicly and, most importantly, privately.

I thought that he said that he "did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."