The Perils of Being In Command

In light of the recent News Corporation phone hacking scandal, I have only this to say: the general tone and attitude of any hierarchical organization, whether that be the military, the executive branch, or any corporation you could find, is set by the people in charge. Even without issuing a direct order in any given circumstance, the attitude that the leadership staff brings to the table will have a significant effect on the entire structure, all the way down to the lowest members, all the time. That's Leadership 101.

Consequently, an executive or officer that expects hard work out of everyone (including himself/herself), refuses to tolerate any kind of misbehavior, and stays open to input regardless of the source will cultivate an atmosphere in which all but the most hopeless screw-ups will do likewise, and those outliers will (hopefully) find themselves out of a job. Conversely, an executive who prefers results to ethics, who turns a blind eye to misbehavior (productive or otherwise), and who refuses to listen to criticism will find themselves at the helm of an organization that produces ethics violations and scandals like most companies produce newspapers.

I suppose I can't say which style Rupert Murdoch prefers. I'm not privy to his boardroom meetings or his e-mail traffic, after all. Nor can I say with any certainty how much he knew about this growing catastrophe for his corporation; that's what a lot of far more capable people in the U.S. and the U.K. are trying to determine as I write this. I will say that I would be very surprised if he preferred the former style, considering the work we've seen out of News of the World and/or Fox News.

And even if Murdoch knew absolutely nothing about the subject matter of these particular controversies, to say he has no influence on his own corporation is ridiculous. He's in command. He sets the tone. It's incumbent on him to set a productive tone that won't land his corporation in legal trouble with two separate governments. If he can't do that, perhaps it's past time for him to find a new line of work.

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