Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA (the governing body of football/ soccer, kind of like the commissioner’s office of the NFL) since 1998 recently resigned. This came as a shock because the soccer community knew of his corruption; however, we thought him to be completely safe from being removed from office. His authority seemed unchecked and incapable of being brought into account, but now there is an investigation into his activities and several lessons for us.
What we can learn from FIFA’s President’s (Sepp Blatter) resignation:
1. When attempting to do good for the world, means are as important as the ends.
Under Blatter’s leadership FIFA has advocated against racism, furthered their sport’s reach throughout the world, hosted the World Cup in Africa for the first time, and increased the Women’s World Cup number of participants. These steps were not done by Blatter alone; however, there is a tendency to grant a president all the benefits and faults of the organization during his or her tenure. Leadership gains with it a weight of responsibility, which is a heavy burden to bear.
2. When growing your network, you should evaluate how your network grows, instead of just how strong your network is.
Blatter has gained a very strong network and backing from substantial constituents in the global soccer community. This could be seen in him gaining the vote for President of FIFA days after it broke that FIFA executives were being indicted for possible fraud. Very few leaders manage reelection in the midst of a scandal, Blatter did. However, the merit of his network seems to largely be built upon bribes and other questionable means.
3.When your career is being evaluated there is the propensity for our society to base it on only one or two key events.
The desire for a headline and a few key notes are huge. We often limit our media consumption to a few bullet points, key words, or titles. When our work lives are being evaluated there is a likelihood that they will be evaluated by a few notable stories, not necessarily how they were on the rainy Tuesday when you worked hard and everyone else slacked off. Is evaluation of a career on a point or two fair? Probably not. However, it seems to be the way things are currently.
4. When a leader establishes a culture he or she must be prepared to deal with the long term ramifications of that culture.
Culture is very much of a buzzword today. When a leader establishes a work place culture that is a key in how an organization runs. In a class I took last semester, Strategic Management, we noted just how important a leader’s responsibility in culture is. Mr. Blatter noted that it was not his role to be in control of every employee of FIFA. That is true, but it is also true that he had a need to ensure a culture of corruption was not allowed throughout FIFA.
It is easy for us, or at least me, to focus on an end goal and forget about placing the correct emphasis on the process and steps themselves. May we remember that it is not simply the position we are in or the power of our network that earn merit, but it is how we use the power we have been given. Also, let it be a warning for us that if we cheat people it will eventually come to light and be an area many remember us by.
I would love to know your thoughts on the FIFA scandal or work place culture.