The Fatal Leadership Mistakes Of Poor Communication And Inadequate Empathy

The Fatal Leadership Mistakes Of Poor Communication And Inadequate Empathy


Leonard Zwelling

David Brooks does a good job of describing the failure of the Biden Administration in consolidating the political support of the American people despite having made great progress on the economy.

Under President Biden job growth has been phenomenal and not just white-collar jobs. Large percentages of the jobs created by Biden-sponsored legislation benefitted those without college degrees. Despite its apparent economic success, the Biden Administration is failing politically. Why?

Here’s what British writer David Goodhart said: “In the last two decades it sometimes feels as if an enormous social vacuum cleaner has sucked up status from manual occupations, even skilled ones, and reallocated it to the middling and higher cognitive professions and the prosperous metropolitan centers and university towns.”

In other words, the cities are blue and the rest of the country is not. Leaders do a poor job of communicating their goals and plans to achieve them and don’t seem to listen to or care about the zeitgeist at all.

Furthermore, if anyone ever spoke to the “average American,” it’s Donald Trump. Trump, despite his elite status by wealth and education, has managed to be perceived as a spokesman for the less educated. And, as this blog has said countless times, everyone’s vote counts the same and, if anything, a vote in the less populous rural states counts more than one in New York or California as a percentage of electoral college votes. The fix is in for Trump.

The Democratic Party has lost its traditional base—the working class, minorities, immigrants– and not replaced it. It will probably cost Biden the election despite all the good his economic plans may have done. In sum, people just don’t feel the economic benefit and they certainly are not inspired by a tired, old man.

The same may be true in academic medical centers. The elite, highly paid leadership teams seem to be further and further from the sentiments of the rank and file clinical or science faculty. The leadership has no idea what it takes for either a lab-based investigator, a clinician-scientist, or a patient care specialist to get through a day. Like the Democratic leadership, the leadership of major centers like MD Anderson is caught up in expanding their clinical operations, making sure that no one offends anyone else, assuring the lawyers are running the show, and that they themselves are lauded and applauded with accolades and lavish salaries. They don’t feel the pain of those they lead and those they lead do not trust them at all.

Like the Democratic leadership, the leadership of academic centers like Anderson is too distant from the place where the work is done. They do not have to go home to three hours of Epic charting after a long day in the clinic. They don’t have to take the ridiculous array of computer-based training that seems to expand with each academic year. And their salaries are not on grants.

When leaders communicate poorly, listen poorly, and manage poorly they always seem to be confounded when things go wrong.

I have an idea. Look in the mirror and start over. The lack of empathy is showing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *