Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Out of Touch with the Public's Reality

Though I have been caught up with the football, I am still in touch with the rest of the world. This is more than I can say for Tony Hayward, who thought it would be a good idea to go boating in an elite yachting event while barrels and barrels of oil gush into the ocean. It says a lot about not just Tony Hayward but about executives in general. There are many senior executives who somewhere along the way have completely lost touch with the "small people".

Their daily lives are somehow spent in a bubble where they fraternise among themselves and share the same belief systems, honed after years of living in said bubble. So when it comes down to dealing with life situations outside of that bubble - be it internally with employee issues or externally as in the BP case, they believe what they know to be right. It's when these issues manifest themselves in the public domain, that we recognise the growing chasm between those "up there" and the little people.

They spend much of their day at internal meetings, getting information from their managers. They get advice from their boards, who tend to be older men and a few women who are even further detached from the web. Board members have even less of a clue. So most CEOs are probably having the wrong conversations about the wrong things with the wrong people. - Business Week
Maybe if more leaders went "undercover" as in the CBS reality show Undercover Boss, or more realistically, spent more time interfacing with people other than their elite peers - employees, customers for example, they would better understand the way the real world works and how real people are affected by events that somehow don't seem to matter much to them.
"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." - Tony Hayward, May 14.
And it is these out of touch with reality statements and actions from BP and its executive which continue to exacerbate what is already an insurmountable scenario. It makes even the term "public relations" a misnomer because if he in fact had any type of real, honest to goodness relations outside of his myopic inner circle, then he would probably not be so regularly angering the public.


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