Love him or hate him, you have admire the no-nonsense, buttoned-down management style of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In his nearly 12-year tenure as mayor, he’s proved himself effective at getting things done. So as today’s New York Times article pointed out, the early days of Hurricane Sandy were right in Bloomberg’s management wheelhouse.
However, as the storm’s aftermath drags out and city residents continue to suffer, a weakness in Bloomberg’s armor has surfaced: a lack of empathy. As the Times article points out, Bloomberg hasn’t gone out of his way to linger in storm-ravaged neighborhoods to sooth residents who haven’t had power for weeks.
Curiously, his aides say this is done by design. “The people in this city didn’t elect Mike Bloomberg three times to give him a hug,” said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor and Bloomberg’s chief press handler, in the article. The mayor would ultimately be judged on how the city rebounds, not on empathy, said his aides.
What Bloomberg and his handlers don’t seem to understand is that empathy is a mark of a great leader. Showing some compassion is a good thing. Just ask the residents in Staten Island who were able to say a few words to and get a hug from President Obama during his visit there on Thursday.
No, Michael Bloomberg should understand that showing empathy is part of the job, and shouldn’t be dismissed as a time-wasting shirking of management responsibilities. On top of it, empathy will help shape his reputation as a leader and his legacy.
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