I heard this story last week on NPR, “Apologizing Executives: The Rise of the Emoter-In-Chief,” and it got me thinking about possible strategic advice to CEOs facing a crisis that might require an apology to his or her constituency. But it also tied into a story I heard driving home last night on ESPN Sports Radio of an interview with famous retired Philly pitcher, Curt Schilling, on why a guy like A-Rod gets hammered for his actions involving past drug use when “Big Papi,” Boston’s David Ortiz, winner of most valuable player in the World Series, and who was also accused of taking drugs in years’ past, has gone unscathed and will probably go into the Baseball Hall of Fame – which A-Rod will never be able to do, even though his numbers are much more impressive than Big Papi’s.
The reason that Curt gave was very simple: “Guys who are liked” and have great personalities, and who are wont to argue and grandstand for the sake of justification and satisfying one’s ego, can overcome some of the most dreadful predicaments or personal situations. According to Schilling, it’s that simple. It’s like giving a new stand-up comedian a break and laughing at a joke that might not be too funny, but “Hey, he seems like a good guy, give him credit for trying.”
On the other hand, those who are not beloved, who display arrogance and a “never wrong” attitude, will eventually go down in flames and rarely regain the respect of the public. I started thinking about people in recent and not so recent history like Dick Nixon (“I am not a Crook”); Dick Cheney (too many examples to choose from); Eliot Spitzer who barely apologized even to his wife for his dalliances with call girls; JP Morgan-Chase’s Jamie Dimon on the civil investigations into mortgage-backed securities; BP’s former CEO, Tony Hayward, for his botched self-pitying apology on the oil spill by saying “I want my life back!” etc. So while some will say “Nice guys finish last,” that may only be transitory, because chances are that nice guys can come back strong and reinforce the respect of their peers and the public much easier than those arrogant bullies who finish first for the short term. Something to think about. Just sayin’.