This is the moment that Jamie Carragher’s professionalism should have kicked in and overrode his emotions to react to some puerile taunting from a Man Utd fan. But he didn’t. And the consequences look like a metaphorical car crash. Two jobs lost, reputation in tatters and being labelled a hypocrite, as spitting is often cited as the lowest of the low amongst many lows on the football pitch!
But as business leaders what can we learn?
- We are always on duty! So, it’s important not to let your guard slip. Never get drawn into commenting or doing something that whilst at work you would never consider. There is a great episode in ‘The Thick of It’ when a politician, having completed a faultless media interview with one of the nationals, is asked for a personal view on a colleague as he escorts the journalist down the stair to the building’s exit. He, thinking this is just incidental small talk, gives his honest opinion which is less than complimentary. And there’s the story!
- Apologise immediately. If something does go wrong in your organisation and you are culpable, then man up and face the music. Apologise (sincerely!), explain why it happened and reassure people that you have taken or will take steps to make sure it never happens again. To be fair to Mr Carragher, the next day he faced up to the media and conducted a number of interviews to apologise as he did to the family with whom he interacted with on the road.
- Develop a thick skin. Everyone has an opinion that can be readily broadcast on social media. Rarely do we get shouted at in the street or on the motorway but the discipline is the same. You don’t have to react to everything. Yes, correct a journalist if their facts are wrong but just because they don’t agree with you, your product promises or your new ad campaign, it’s often best to let it be and turn the other cheek.
So, whether you are in a work situation, down the pub on Friday night or driving back from the football, always think first before opening your mouth. As Jamie learned, it can lead to a quite unflattering spat!