Tuesday, July 19th—Rupert Murdoch and his son James are appearing before Parliament to give their testimonies on the News of the World’s phone hacking scandal.
One of the key issues discussed is the Murdoch family’s involvement with News Corp.—the parent company to the newspaper.
When questioned about Rupert Murdoch’s seemingly “hands-off” approach, Murdoch reveals he “very seldom” spoke to the News of the World. “I’m not really in touch,” he says, adding that he frequently corresponds with the Wall Street Journal. However, he denies that he’s “hands-off.”
Denying that the fault lies with him, but rather with those that he hired and trusted—Murdoch represents a classic example of leadership gone awry.
Whether or not his awareness of the matter existed—the point he makes is no doubt a troublesome one for many businesses, and leaves us asking, what is the extent of a leader’s field of vision?
In an interview with media writer Ken Auletta on Monday night, Piers Morgan, host of CNN and former News of the World editor spoke on behalf of Rupert Murdoch, saying that he “cannot be expected to micromanage the methodology of every single part of his company.”
After the current scandal, we now see that unethical practice can result in huge losses, and preventative measures must be put into place.
In a statement to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Rupert Murdoch was quoted as saying, “We now know that things went badly wrong at the News of the World. For a newspaper that held others to account, it failed when it came to itself. The behavior that occurred went against everything that I stand for. It not only betrayed our readers and me, but also the many thousands of magnificent professionals in our other divisions around the world.”
While it is nearly impossible to control every aspect of your business alone, it is possible to make smart decisions about the people that surround your business.
It is now clearer than ever; a leader’s field of vision only extends as far as the people he trusts to represent him. The old adage, “trust but verify,” couldn’t be more true as leaders may choose to delegate authority, but can never shed accountability.