It is so difficult to look at global happenings with an objective point of view that we are usually unable to do so. With all of the changes in Crimea, I am looking at leadership/action/reaction and the key elements of any leadership brand.
It has become an accepted axiom in the public relations business that there is no such thing as bad PR. There is a lot of truth in this. Why? Because the worse value that can be applied to any entity is to be viewed as unimportant.
I think that this was the recent malady that Russia suffered. They had a concern that they were being viewed by the world as irrelevant since the end of the Cold War. It seems quite apparent that for the Russians, infamy is better than irrelevance and who can blame them? For over half a century they were one of the keys to global politics and a force to be reckoned with. Since the split up of the Soviet Union, the western powers treated Moscow as a second tier player. It was a foolish mistake to underestimate a proud and insular society like Russia. I think about the lyrics from the musical Chess and its rousing song, Anthem.
No man, no madness
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country’s heart
They rise to fail
She is eternal
Long before nations’ lines were drawn
When no flags flew, when no armies stood
My land was born
Vladimir Putin’s Brand of Leadership
National pride goes well beyond rational thinking. No matter where you stand, at the end of the day, your world starts there. The West, in its trivialization of Russia’s national need (notice I did not say want) for importance, created Vladimir Putin and not the other way around.
Think back just 70 years and consider how Churchill struggled to cajole the US into what became lend-lease in the early years of WWII.
Just 30 years prior, the British Empire was the world premier power. Suddenly, Churchill found himself in a different world. One dominated by a new world order that belied the importance of Britain and meant that asking for help had the real possibility of a refusal to take any action.
Russia was forced to embrace Putin. We had a part in that. Leadership is about action and consequences are often overlooked until the weight of consequences drops like an anvil and smashes the very thing the leadership promised. No one aptly considers that in a clear way because we are all subjective.
I can’t help but remember what the American humorist Will Rogers said when he was asked how he felt after Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) was elected to his first term.
If you remember, Franklin was not elected as a war time President. That would happen later in his Presidency. He was elected during the Great Depression.
Rogers said, ”Well, if he gets elected and the White House catches on fire and burns to the ground, well we say…at least he got something started.”
Putin got something started too. Let’s hope nothing gets burnt to the ground.