One of the key areas in any function, job or role is the match between responsibility, the number of tasks that you need to perform for covering that responsibility, and the authority and means that you need to being able to fulfil your job. Quite often there is a mismatch, like inadequate authority, inadequate means, too many tasks.
In business, it’s rare finding a role that has no responsibility and excessive authority. The reason is that most large companies have some kind of supervisory body that hires and fires the CEO role. You may find an exception, however, in family-owned companies that are run badly. The Trump companies have a history of bankruptcies, infighting, lawsuits and unpaid creditors.
The 45th president of the United States of America has a unique view on the presidential role: assuming no responsibility while demanding excessive authority to cover that absent responsibility. Actually, there is little discrepancy between his CEO role and his presidential role.
The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the differences in presidential roles. The presidents of America, Brazil and Russia assume no responsibility for the coronavirus, and let others handle that task. If handling that task goes well, these presidents will take the credits. If not, these presidents will blame and/or fire the persons handling the crisis.
The president of China was not elected but was chosen by the other members of the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China. Hence, he must assume full responsibility as else he will be replaced by his peers. In the words of a recent NRC article: “A totalitarian leader can make no mistakes. Never.” (my recent blog)
I have been (very) critical about the Chinese cover-up of the true impact of its coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, the Chinese handling of that crisis dwarfs the handling by America, Brazil, Russia and also UK. Clearly, elected wannabe authoritarian leaders are not even a shadow of totalitarian leaders. Demanding excessive authority and/or means will not make up for the difference.
Trump’s ratings and re-election chances are plummeting following (i) the coronavirus crisis, (ii) the 40+ million unemployed workers which should equal some 25% of the total US workforce, (iii) the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent national riots. Recently, the Atlantic even concluded: America Has No President:
“Trump has never shown any inclination or ability to soothe or console in moments of crisis. He wants the trappings of power, like showing up for a rocket launch, but he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty with the work of governing.”
“There is no power or authority without responsibility, and he who accepts the one cannot escape or evade the other.” A quote from a 1966 speech to Parliament by Haile Selassie (1892-1975, Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.
NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY (2020) by Billie Eilish
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.