Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

3 Lessons We Can Learn from Brian Williams

Leslie’s Articles

Retrospect Tells Us if We Were Right or Wrong

I always liked Brian Williams. I mean I didn’t dislike him as a talking head on the nightly news.

Something about his crooked face made him believable. He, like all of us, was not perfect. Yet he was successful.

People claim NBC News had a difficult decision to make as to what to do with their less than honest anchor. I don’t think it should have been difficult. Experts said they had to choose between their ratings which mean dollars, mucho dollars, or their integrity. Insiders say NBC worried that if they took Williams off the anchor desk they would lose their reign as nightly news leader. This first place allows them to charge more for commercial time.

How do you measure integrity in dollars? First it was getting shot in Afghanistan that came under question, the floating bodies in New Orleans French Quarter, and then the Mid- East. In one question of his integrity, he reported rockets within 1500 feet when they were reportedly within 6 miles.

There are always consequences. Or should be. Some forget that those consequences apply to everyone. You can eat chocolate every day, As long as you are willing to live with the consequences of weight gain or living on the treadmill. The problem comes in when we want to eat the chocolate without the consequences.

Brian Williams can fabricate, can “not remember”, can apologize, he can do whatever he wants. The fact is that there are consequences, at least when you get caught.

His biggest consequence is not being fired. His biggest consequence is not being believed. How can we ever believe him again? How can viewers believe him about an election poll, something said, a computer virus or Ebola?

The people inside NBC will figure this out sooner rather than later. If heaven forbid Williams was injured in a car accident, the news would go on with someone else. NBC would not stop airing nightly news. So let’s grow up, put on our big boy pants, and do what needs to be done. Brian went big so now he needs to go home.

In the world of Ohio State Football, NEXT MAN UP.

3 Lessons Learned

  • The world is small. The big news is not that it is flat, but that it is small. Smaller than ever. Although there is a saying that a drop in the Indian Ocean affects all of us, it happens faster today. Between our camera cell phones, Twitter, Instagram, and text the world is very small. What happened in another country does not stay in that country. Which means for all of us that what happens at that sales conference or vacation, likely will not stay there. It simply is no longer true that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
  • There are consequences. At HorseTalk: Lessons in Leadership, a program I created to use horses to teach people about their communication and leadership effectiveness, there is a consequence for breaking one of the few rules of the day. The consequence is standing on one foot which some people equal to 20 lashes and others laugh at. The point is to understand that there are always consequences for breaking rules. According to urban legend, Tom Brokaw led the cavalry that was up in arms about William’s fabrication. In your profession or company, are there consequences for breaking the rules? Do these rules apply to everyone? Because sooner or later, whether you are Bill Belicheck or the Saints, they will apply to you.
  • Life will go on. Although NBC does not want to lose revenue, they will figure out that life went on after Walter Cronkite and it will after Brian Williams. And Brian Williams after his assigned time ‘in the penalty box” will go on with his life just like Marv Albert and Richard Nixon. Life may not look the same or as they thought, but it will go on. Just ask Jim Tressel now president at Youngstown State University.