Top Gear Fires Jeremy Clarkson: All hail actual leadership

Posted March 26, 2015 in Latest News & Insights, Leadership

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about why there is so much anger and aggression everywhere. From watching Monica Lewinsky talk about online shaming, to posts in my facebook feed that are angry and derogatory (always veiled as jokes of course) to the comments section on just about everything (don’t read the comments and don’t feed the trolls!), it’s made me wonder what all this negative energy is doing to us. Too often people who are bullied are the ones put on the defensive while the bullies walk away intact. Especially online. But then you see a bright spark. And for me, today, that bright spark was Tony Hall director-general of the BBC.

In case you’ve missed it, Tony Hall has made the right decision to fire a knob (I’m quoting a coworker here) who brings in loads of viewers. The knob in question is Jeremy Clarkson, popular host of the popular tv show Top Gear. I’m not really a car person (although I do still pine for my 78 Mustang), but Top Gear was a fun show to watch and Jeremy Clarkson’s crazy enthusiasm was infectious. And, as it goes, Clarkson’s popularity made the show a lot of money. And, like many popular hosts (ahem, Jian Ghomeshi), it’s no surprise that it appears to have gone to Clarkson’s head.l

wambulance_logoApparently, he felt it was within his rights to verbal abuse one of the show’s producer before cracking him in the face and splitting his lip. Nice one. And all because he couldn’t have steak and fries. Somebody call the WAMBULANCE! What a travesity. No wonder the poor guy lost it.

Instead of sweeping the incident under the carpet (which frankly is like having “daddy” come to your rescue a la Conrad Hilton), Tony Hall, director-general at the BBC, put his foot down and fired Clarkson.

YAY!!! Chalk this one in the win column. Although let’s be clear… this wasn’t Clarkson’s first offence and it’s a bit disappointing that Hall referred to is as a “decision he did not make lightly”. Yeah… I suppose if you’re the kind of leader who, when push comes to shove, will put profits before people this might be a tough call, but guess what…it’s the RIGHT CALL SO JUST DO IT!

Nobody is irreplaceable.  (Go Shad!) And absolutely nobody should have to put up with an abusive knob at work. I’m sure Tony Hall will be touted as being “brave” to take this stand. I don’t think it’s brave. I think it’s just good leadership. Sadly, we don’t see enough of it so when we do see it it’s so out of the norm that it seems courageous. That really needs to change, don’t you think?

Happy leading!


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  1. Brenda says:

    Awesome post! I continue to be amazed at how often clients ask us to create “work arounds” for people who either aren’t performing or who are just plain difficult. We live in a culture of avoidance – ignore it and maybe it will work itself out. It never does. Playing “pretend” at work sucks the life out of people.