2 June 2016
If someone is not ‘on your side’ but your professional future relies on a good relationship with them, how would you handle the situation?
I was somewhat flabbergasted to see Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to media relations as he delivered his EU speech at the Institute of Technology and Engineering earlier today, considering his often turbulent relationship with them.
How can you champion free speech yet smirk when a journalist is hissed and booed by your supporters as she tries to ask you a question? It’s ironic and completely bizarre. Yes, he shushed the crowd, but I’d say that a wry smile was enough to validate their actions.
Corbyn himself said that the distribution of his and the Labour party’s message relies on the media, who he blames for a lack of clarity on the Labour Party’s EU stance.
Regardless of your political persuasion, what can we learn from this behaviour and how does it transfer to business?
Well, if I were in a position where I had no option but to work with someone that I knew was not a supporter of mine, I’d make my utmost effort to turn their opinion around. Wouldn’t you?
I’ve mentioned the quote before that the best way to destroy an enemy is to create a friend, and this is a prime example.
Could Corbyn have taken a higher ground to work with the media and turn them around? Whilst it may not be that simple, and could be said that journalists being booed was a regular occurrence back in the days of Thatcher and that it’s par for the course, surely it does Corbyn no favours in a crowd in which he feels so vilified.
As a leader – whether that’s political, in business or as a parent – it is your responsibility to set an example and, often, to take a higher ground. I believe that Corbyn would’ve been much better placed to have kept his personal opinion separate, quieted the crowd and drawn focus back to the key points of his speech.
Now, rather than leaving the speech sharing the Corbyn and the party’s key points, the majority of the media in attendance have taken to Twitter to decry his behaviour and that of his followers.
It’s certainly a lesson that we can all learn in leadership and relationship building.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What would you do in that position?