Recognizing your Underpants – a Board Discussion

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Ruth McCambridge

In my experience many boards suffer from the inability to grapple with the real questions in front of them. So it is also with New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.

In what has to be one of the more amusing situations in politics today, Weiner’s non-responses to questions about the scenic tweet of (his?) nether regions from his account continue.

I’m sure you know the story – a young woman who is one of Weiner’s Twitter followers received the pic in a tweet and since then every journalist worth his or her salt has been trying to run the facts to ground. Along the way Weiner’s answers have gotten more and more cryptic.

For instance there is this awkward question posed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “You would know if th – th- this is your underpants, for example?”

Weiner non-responds, “It certainly doesn’t look familiar to me but I don’t want to say with certitude.”

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Either Weiner has elected the most brilliant strategy for in-your-face political theater in the history of our democracy or he is a messaging mess.

Please sir! You know whether or not this is your underwear et al.! 

But this type of bald-faced dissembling in public is something of a hallmark of our politicians and something we should try not to emulate lest we find ourselves in the same low confidence rankings.

We all do dumb stuff. Let’s take that as a given – even when we try our best, there will always be stones left unturned and unadvisable paths taken. Given that, maybe it makes sense in our media rich society to be prepared with agreements about our organizational principles when we come under fire.

So once again, I refer you to the article “Mission, Message and Damage Control” by Kim Klein. It is a great read on communications under stress and is a fabulous discussion starter for any board.

And while we are at the topic of boards, I want to point you to this week’s blockbuster column from the inimitable “lay-it-on-the-table-and-watch-what-happens” Simone Joyaux entitled, “How to Revitalize Your Board: Destroy Your Executive Committee.”

Meanwhile try complete honesty for a day – it will make you more aware of how often we are tempted into the odd well-meant fib.

The previous column was taken from NPQ’s eNewsletter, written by Editor in Chief, Ruth McCambridge. Click here to have it delivered free to your inbox.