State of Rebuke

Effec­tive lead­er­ship usu­ally trans­lates into suc­cess. Start­ing with a clear vision, the leader needs to make this vision known and drive his peo­ple to com­plete the vision. Along the way mis­takes are bound to be made. A good leader can han­dle these sit­u­a­tions and use them to strengthen the team. Humil­i­at­ing a worker in front of all of his col­leagues is the WRONG approach, but one recently used by Pres­i­dent Obama dur­ing his State of the Union speech.

By express­ing his dis­plea­sure with the Supreme Court’s rul­ing in Cit­i­zens United v. Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Pres­i­dent Obama vio­lated polit­i­cal eti­quette and scolded the jus­tices of the Supreme Court while they sat in front of him. Not only were the jus­tices scolded, but it was done in front of the entire leg­isla­tive branch of the gov­ern­ment and a national tele­vi­sion audience.

The pres­i­dent and the jus­tices do not have the tra­di­tional employer-employee rela­tion­ship because the Con­sti­tu­tion con­tains sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers safe­guards to pro­tect our demo­c­ra­tic process. How­ever, scold­ing them in such a pub­lic forum while they were in atten­dance was an action of an inef­fec­tive leader. Pres­i­dent Obama does not have to agree with their deci­sion, but he does have to respect it and his arro­gant com­ments clearly show he does not. An effec­tive leader would pull the employee aside and han­dle this sit­u­a­tion qui­etly. Since the pres­i­dent can­not do this, a bet­ter forum for his com­ments would have been a press con­fer­ence where he could have voiced his dis­plea­sure while not embar­rass­ing anyone.

On the other hand, no employee likes to be pub­licly scolded, but when it hap­pens the employee should not attempt to show up their boss. While Pres­i­dent Obama was dis­cussing the deci­sion, Jus­tice Samuel Alito was seen shak­ing his head and mouthing the words “not true.” Once the Supreme Court has ruled on a case, the jus­tices’ work is done and it is up to the peo­ple and the leg­is­la­ture to deal with the rul­ing. Jus­tice Alito also vio­lated polit­i­cal eti­quette by fail­ing to main­tain the aura of impar­tial­ity and under­stand­ing that peo­ple are enti­tled to debate their decisions.

After an ardu­ous first year in office, Pres­i­dent Obama failed to dis­play the qual­i­ties of an effec­tive leader dur­ing his State of the Union speech. As the leader of the United States, Pres­i­dent Obama should know bet­ter and proved it may well be three long years until we can have effec­tive leadership.