Friday, June 05, 2009

Political Shakedowns – Who Do You Trust?

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown shuffled his cabinet saying it’s because of the economy. Though many in the United Kingdom think the re-organization of the Brit’s government was because of the recent resignation of Secretary of Defence, John Hutton, over spending blunders in the military.

Prime Minister Brown said he’s determined to clean up the government, and in turn make it run more efficiently and effectively, to bring Britain out of the global economic depression.

Politicians, lawyers and gulp – even journalists – have all been tossed to the bottom of the list of those most likely to be respected and trusted.

Lawyers scare people with paperwork, legal fees, and language that is anything but straight forward – no wonder they aren’t trusted. Journalists often go after the blood, the gore, or the glam, without really telling people what they need to know to live their lives.

I can see how the ambulance chasers and celebrity hounds have lost the public’s trust. Politicians, unlike lawyers and journalists aren’t in it for the money or the fame, but to make a difference in society.


Maybe not.

Just look at all the scandals over the years from U.S. President Richard Nixon’s Watergate, the on-going Airbus scandal here in Canada involving former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to today’s so-called “reshuffle” by Britain’s Prime Minster Brown.

All of these political messes were caused by world leaders thinking about their bank accounts, and not how history would remember them and their policies.

Granted, once you become leader of a country, you become an instant celebrity, and some of the scandals are simply tabloid trash. Like U.S. President Bill Clinton’s sexual exploits with then-White House intern Monica Lewinski, or even further back, to the womanizing of U.S. President John F. Kennedy – it is well known now that Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were involved.

Though all public figures should be aware of their celebrity status, and should be mindful of the things they do, and how their actions may have far greater ramifications.

That said, we’re all only human, so we’re bound to make some ill fated decisions along the way. But some of these poor choices are more forgivable than others.
Former U.S. President Clinton’s affair was driven by hormones, and wasn’t really something that would affect the operations of the government, national security, or anything else presidential – though from the media circus at the time you’d swear it would.

But when former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney allegedly takes a bribe to dole out government contracts to Airbus International, that does affect the operations of government, and possibly the safety and security of the nation. We’re still hearing – and bound to hear for years to come – the arguments in the Airbus scandal unfold.

However, Prime Minister Brown is playing a good hand by trying to clean up his political house. Although most government shuffles are purely public relations events, to move people around and show the public that the government is taking care of business, maybe, just maybe this shuffle might be different.

Provided Prime Minister Brown has really thought through today’s decision, and placed the right people into the right roles.

That’s what real leadership is all about – managing the ultimate resource in any business or government: people.

People – be it employees, or publicly elected politicians – make the decisions which in the end, determine whether a company or government succeeds or fails.

And it is up to those in leadership roles, that decide who does what which really starts that government or business on the road to success or failure.

Let’s just hope Britain’s leader got today’s players right – otherwise we’ll probably see the outcome of a failed government in the form of a snap election call.

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