Return to site

Navel-gazing Leadership Leads to Misery

· Leadership

When the shit hits the fan, navel gazers play the blame game. It’s the best way to kill their own accountability. But even worse, it’s the best way to give up their power to make changes. The more they gaze at their navel, the more it shrinks, gripped by fear and despondency.


The latest example of navel gazing leadership is the March 28, 2020 op-ed on Fox Newsb byHouse Foreign Affairs Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), saying that the coronavirus pandemic resulted from the failure of CCP leaders to act quickly: “Let me be clear: the blame for this crisis falls squarely on the irresponsible behavior of the CCP and its leaders”, adding that while the CCP is lying “ about the origins of this crisis” it is also “leveraging its control of critical medical supplies to reward those who fall in line – and punish those who believe its lies… Congress and the American people are watching”.


Blaming others is the best way to kill your own accountability


What is the point of expending time and energy in a meaningless blame game? Paraphrasing Lisa Ling, former co-host of “The View”, Mr. McCaul and his fellow navel gazers can blame China until they’re blue in the face, but it’s not going to do Americans any good. In fact, given that China has not reported any new cases and that the U.S. is now the epicenter of the pandemic, the U.S. should be asking China for help on how to stem the spread of the virus.


Blaming the Chinese for the coronavirus pandemic is not only puny and wrong. It is how some people in positions of leadership are trying to kill accountability at home. Those in positions of leadership are expected to actually demonstrate leadership, not be the reflection of the bad tendencies they imagine in others:

  • Both China and the U.S. failed to plan;
  • Both failed to listen and comprehend;
  • The leaders of both nations appeared removed from the crisis, thus negating their perceived and expected leadership actions;
  • Both over relied on the “ways of yesterday” and let fear distract, or worse, control them;
  • Both failed to give up control and properly delegate to create enough initial flexibility to successfully adjust to rapidly changing circumstances;
  • Both failed to act and do something right away; both failed to lead at a time when they were called upon to make tough choices and face opposition while under extreme pressure.

In other words, the leaders of the two most powerful nations in the world together failed to effectively envision, engage and execute at the moment when they were most expected to. They both demonstrated distrust and uncertainty, clumsiness and inadequacy, and disaffection for and alienation from the citizens of the nation they lead.


But only the Trump administration planned to fail by failing to plan in the face of what was an increasingly clear global threat and despite the ever more pressing warnings from the U.S. intelligence community. Wishful thinking and denial worked together to create willful ignorance which has now proven to be real misery. Such are the consequences of navel-gazing leadership.


Astrid Ruiz Thierry, Principal, Upboost LLC

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!