Rupert Murdoch: It’s all about karma baby

Posted July 20, 2011 in Latest News & Insights

I love how putting out bad karma will eventually slap you down.  It may take days, it may take months or it may take years, but – according to karmic laws – eventually, everything you put out into the world will come back to you. Rupert Murdoch has spent a career leading with a lot of bad karma: dominating people, intimidating people and generally making lots of people’s lives miserable.  In the News of the World debacle, his main minion, Rebekah Brooks, has been quoted as saying “we’re in the business of ruining people’s lives.”  Nice.  Bet that made her Mum really proud and, has helped create a fabulous culture at News of the World that’s now biting the Murdoch’s firmly on their bums.

In an earlier post, we talked about how culture will eat strategy for lunch (and leaders too).  Taking Simon Sinek’s premise (that to be successful you need to start with “Why”) it would appear the News of the World’s “why” has come full circle.  If you see the purpose of your company to ruin people’s lives (masked under terms like “free speech” and “open media”), it’s hardly surprising that the
leadership team of the (defunct) News of the World find themselves where they
are now.

Reporters from the News of the World talked repeatedly about the pressure to generate salacious stories.  Deceased journalist Sean Hoare, the whistleblower on the phone tapping scandal, was paid money by The News of the World to party with rock stars in order to get the real dirt.  Rupert Murdoch has been known to pressure his editors / journalists for the big “scoops”.  He talks to the Wall Street Journal editor every week to see what the line-up of articles is (not to influence mind you, just to “check-in”).

So, how is it possible that Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks can sit in front of a parliamentary committee and deny any knowledge of wrong doing?  The idea that a leader like Rupert Murdoch isn’t scrutinizing expenses in his operations and would miss a $1.6 million payout to phone hacking victims is beyond ludicrous.  I mean, really?  We’re supposed to believe that a bunch of “underlings” were running rampant?

He also denies knowledge that the company was paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator under contract to The News of the World who was convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of staff members of the royal family.

During yesterday’s hearing, Murdoch interrupted his son mid-sentence to say:  “I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of
my life.”

Oh, well then.  All is forgiven.

There are so many leadership lessons here, but for me, the ultimate one is to remember the law of karma: what comes around, goes around. Sure you can build your leadership career by bullying people and convincing yourself that you’re invincible. Or, you can choose to lead with integrity, have a decent life and make a kind and lasting impact on the people who come in contact with you.

It really is a matter of personal choice.

Happy leading!


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