On Leadership, The Times We Live In
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Tone deaf and tiresome

Daniel Snyder is — with apologies to Judith Viorst — the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad owner of the Washington National Football League (NFL)  franchise.

As sports columnist Martin Fennelly chronicled back in 2018, there are many instances one can point to of Snyder’s terrible stewardship of what many foolishly consider to be a community asset. (Those who think this way definitely do not include NFL owners.) With so many to choose from, where does one start? Well, one of the worst examples could be when the team’s cheerleaders said they were used as escorts on a trip to Costa Rica where stadium suite owners and sponsors could “check out” those women topless. Then there is the sycophancy. Like other bosses who thrive on obsequious behavior from their staffs, Snyder hires sycophants in his operation and runs through coaches like — oh, I don’t know — White House chiefs of staff or press secretaries.

But many considered his most egregious behavior to be his defiant refusal to consider the impact of Washington’s stereotyped racial image on the larger community. That is, he defiantly refused until events overwhelmed him. In the midst of Black Lives Matter and a national racial reconsideration, Snyder’s corporate supporters (not to mention the NFL) apparently gave him an ultimatum: change the name or lose millions in our support.

So earlier today the team announced the “retirement” of the old name.

I was speaking with friends who had moved to the Washington area from Atlanta, and one asked about that name change. He assumed the team would talk with the community and get a great deal of input before making the change. I laughed. Snyder has been reported as “bunkered in” as he makes this decision. Hmmm…I think I’ve heard that phrase used recently with another embattled and tiresome “leader.” In any case, Snyder doesn’t really care what the larger community thinks. Daniel Snyder doesn’t listen to many people, but as he showed in giving in to pressure from sponsors like FedEx and to governments like the District of Columbia (where he hopes to locate a new, taxpayer-supported stadium), he does listen to money. From the statements coming out from team headquarters today, Daniel Snyder is clearly going through this process kicking and screaming.

Columnist Colbert I King noted that Snyder’s one consistent success was in leveraging the good of the community to the point where the team, at $3.1 billion, ranks as the NFL’s fourth-most valuable franchise. “The team’s brand equity has fallen, however,” Forbes magazine writes, “because the (insert old name here) have been a train wreck on the football field for much of Snyder’s tenure.” 

Does that record of stewardship sound like anyone else we know? Daniel “I will NEVER change the name of the franchise” Snyder and Donald “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” Trump sometimes appear to be twin brothers from different mothers. Both are tone deaf and petulant to a fault. In other words, just plain tiresome.

I no longer follow pro football, for a variety of reasons. But I do know that the Washington football team will soon get a new name. It may actually be a decent one. But — like our country — the team will never get out of the morass of its current state until it gets rid of the current tiresome leader who tries, without much success, to run the show by the old “my way or the highway” adage. At least for the country, we get to vote on our leadership this November. Washington football fans can only look at the actuarial tables to address their problem. Daniel Snyder is 55 years old. Good luck with that.

More to come…

DJB

UPDATE: And in the category of you can’t make up stuff about how bad Snyder runs his organization, the Washington Post had an exclusive saying 15 women were accusing former employees of the club of sexual harassment. The team had one full-time human resource staff person who also performed other administrative duties — for an organization of more than 200 employees — so it was difficult for the women to call on HR with their complaints. One quote from the story sums up Snyder’s approach to management:

“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” said Julia Payne, former assistant press secretary in the Clinton administration who briefly served as vice president of communications for the team in 2003.

This entry was posted in: On Leadership, The Times We Live In

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I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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