I was a reporter for WPVI ABC TV Philadelphia when Brian was at WCAU TV Philadelphia. We occasionally competed on stories. Because I recall Brian as one of the best journalists I have come across, I was quite upset at the suspension and what has transpired. Yet, I understand it and think NBC did the right thing.
As always, there are leadership lessons to be learned from someone else’s mistakes.
- NBC’s actions say the network and credibility of their product is more important than one person no matter how popular and likeable. The same should hold true for CEO’s who like Brian who so publicly represent their organizations. If they lie or mishandle an issue, it is a reflection on their services, products and reputation. It jeopardizes the company’s competitive position and reputation.
- We all embellish, exaggerate and tell little white lies which may even be okay at times. Yet, if you are the face of a television news network, stretching the truth in any way shape or form throws everything else you report on or say into question. If you are a CEO, the same holds true. You are held to a higher standard. Investors, analysts, employees and stakeholders will question the validity of your remarks. It goes to the heart of trust and once people have reason not to trust you, you may be hard pressed to ever gain back their full respect.
- Whether you’re a celebrity or CEO, there are no secrets in a You Tube, Twitter, Google age. Anything you say or do can and likely will become public.
- Finally, be careful about making yourself the center of the story. In the news business, a journalist’s job is to report the news, not become part of it. A CEO’s job is to run his/her company and make sure the end result is about employees, stakeholders and customers.
For what it’s worth, I’m rooting for Brian and hope his viewers and colleagues remember the great work he’s done and forgive him. We all make mistakes. We just don’t all make them so publicly.