by Steve Adubato, PhD
Much of Hillary Clinton’s problem right now is a product of her own doing. If she were a stronger leader, with a greater sense of integrity and honesty, she would have dealt with this email controversy in a very different way. Instead of saying that storing thousands of emails on a private server – potentially, many sensitive emails – as Secretary of State was “allowed,” what she should have simply done from the beginning was say something like this; “I was wrong. It doesn’t matter what the law allows, what I did was inappropriate. I should have gone to the government email server given my role as Secretary of State. It created the wrong impression about my intent regarding those emails and I am fully responsible for that problem. I need to deal with this immediately by turning over those emails and fully cooperating with all of the agencies investigating this situation. It was a mistake and I need to do better in the future.”
That’s what a real leader would have done. If she were a leader with confidence in herself she would have realized that by acknowledging that she is flawed and makes poor decisions at times, many people would have given her the benefit of the doubt and would have respected her candor and humility. Humility is a huge part of being a strong leader. Further, the ability to own your mistakes is an even bigger part of leadership. Yet, the serious problem for Hillary Clinton – the problem that causes so many voters to say she isn’t trustworthy or honest – is that it appears her first instinct is, in fact, NOT to own up to her own actions but rather, to immediately move to defend and deflect and ultimately, blame what is ever happening to her on someone else.
She paints herself as a victim, now saying that she is held to a higher standard because she is a woman. That’s ridiculous. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and every other candidate who thinks they’re a strong enough leader to run for president gets heavily criticized for their mistakes, not because of their gender but because of the position they are attempting to hold.
One of Hillary Clinton’s biggest leadership flaws is that she simply lacks the ability to see how others see her, for example, when she makes the statement that she and her husband Bill are somehow struggling to pay their bills and make ends meet upon leaving the White House, while both of them are making millions on both speaking and book tours. It just goes to show you how out of touch she can really be. That is what this email thing is all about. Hillary Clinton refuses to admit that the average person with common sense has to assume that she kept a private email account as Secretary of State so that she could keep certain things private that she thought would be embarrassing if they were ever made public. But instead of acknowledging that same fact she insults our intelligence with legal jargon and procedural explanations as to what she thought was allowed – technically.
A real leader would simply say the hell with all that and say, “I blew it. What I did was wrong.” And, a courageous leader would say, “Part of the reason I did it is that I wanted some privacy.” Embarrassing? Yes, but I would respect her more for her honesty and candor. However, I’ve become convinced that those are traits that Hillary Clinton is not especially capable of, not just as a leader, but as a public person. And, note to Hillary, doing the quote “nae nae” with Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t humanize you in any way or give you the common touch or get you the benefit of the doubt. In my view, it only makes her look more calculated and inauthentic. It’s the same as when she, ultimately, apologized for the email debacle. Hillary only did this after being asked to do it countless times when she was backed into a corner and her poll numbers were dropping daily.
Joe Biden is nipping at her heels. Bernie Sanders is making her look foolish and he was supposed to be a non-factor. So even Hillary Clinton’s apology on the whole email thing falls flat. It’s too late, it’s too calculated and it just doesn’t seem like it’s coming from the heart. It’s too bad because Mrs. Clinton is smart, thoughtful, well researched and knows a lot about the world. But like a lot of other people, I just don’t trust her. And, when it comes to leadership trust is not a negotiable character trait.