Late last night I watched the video of Steve Jobs’ press conference addressing the firestorm of criticism over reception issues with the iPhone 4. He chose to deal with the issue by: acknowledging that there is a problem; giving perspective on the scope of the problem (one half of one percent of owners registering complaints); describing the intense commitment in engineering that the company does; offering a free solution for those who feel they need it; and offering a full refund for anyone unsatisfied (after all–no one has a gun to their head regarding what phone they buy).
But behind and beneath all the tech stuff, there are lessons to be learned about human nature in this tempest–lessons that all leaders need to heed.
1. People have high expectations of the leaders who are at the top of the heap (see yesterday’s post).
2. Leaders who brag about their accomplishments expose themselves to intense scrutiny and evaluation.
3. The new information age can be a confusing, convoluted, arbitrary mess of information, misinformation, and shoot-from-the-hip innuendo. The crass voices that project opinions with cutting sarcasm reveal the rough edges of human nature. Give people a megaphone and anonymity (via the internet) and all restraint vanishes. The blogosphere has a lot of well-lit streets but many dark alleys as well.
4. The media play loose with the facts. Even the major media. I’ve been interviewed many times by newspaper, magazine, and television reporters. And I always hold my breath about how the story comes out. Bottom line–I want it to be accurate. I’ve gotten to know some journalists who are methodical, precise, and responsible–and their reporting shows it. And when I’ve witnessed a reporter being just plain sloppy, it is apparent that the reason is either laziness or the pressure to keep stories coming fast.
So if you are a leader in a Christian cause, what do you do with the arbitrary dynamics of criticism? How do you respond in a culture where there is little restraint and discipline in the way we criticize others–particularly when it comes to inaccuracy in the “facts” as we perceive them?