My Man Joe
I must start with our current leader in the White House, President Obama. He’s had to watch VP Joe Biden who is often overeager and well, let’s just say some of the words coming out of Biden’s mouth are what prompted President Obama to say, “Don’t mess with my man Joe."
Obama really means this. Or, in other words, please don't mess with Joe, he's embarrassed me enough already! Not all of this is related to conflict management for Obama, but damage control is always big time.
In a story by Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times, when Obama appointed VP Biden to be in charge of a “tough, unprecedented oversight effort" of the fiscal stimulus plan in 2009, Obama had to step in front of the cameras and explain old Joe more than once.
Michael Steele of the Daily Caller pointed out in a commentary about Master Joe being in charge of a $862 billion stimulus plan, “…here in the real world almost everyone messes with “Joe," and in light of a year full of false job reports, phantom Congressional districts, and millions spent on “stimulus" road signs, it is clear that “Joe" has lost whatever edge he might have had." Joe has an edge? Hmm—funny really if you think about it.
Biden’s blunders are not limited to his failure on overseeing either—which he hasn’t been able to do. Let’s flashback to St. Patrick’s Day 2010. Yep, good Old Joe created real conflict! Teneille Gibson of NBC Washington supplied a “Fresh Episode of Biden’s Blunders"—yet again another time when leader Obama wished he didn’t mess with Joe. In fact, maybe Joe should go!
When discussing St. Patty’s day (with Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen present) Joe spoke up—“The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) knows a lot about it (the holiday). His Mom lived in Long Island for 10 years or so, God Bless her soul." The problem here, Cowen’s mother is still alive and breathing albeit his father died…poor Joe, another flub.
Also of NBC Washington, reporter Daniel Macht who attended the radio and television Correspondents’ Dinner found no one laughing when Joe said, “You know, a lot of you find it hard to understand why you get second billing. Well, welcome to my world."
If we think of Obama as a project manager dealing with conflict, Joe Biden does indeed provide much fuel for the fire. So how does he handle these dilemmas?
In a Fox News report in 2009, “Did Obama throw Biden under the bus?" when it came to defending Biden’s comment on (well no one really knows), “There's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong." Obama was clueless when asked about the comment but provided a comforting statement—much like politicians do—“I think what Joe may have been suggesting -- although I wouldn't put numerical -- I wouldn't ascribe any numerical percentage to any of this -- is that, given the magnitude of the challenges that we have, any single thing that we do is going to be part of the solution, not all of the solution." What solution and what was the whole Biden comment about anyway? A sorry statement leaving Obama the responsibility to clear up whatever 30 percent was and why they’d get it wrong.
But look at Obama’s efforts, you gotta hand it to him, at least a little. He has to play damage control after some of Biden’s flubs and as a project manager, so will you. This means stepping up to bat when team members are incorrect, conveying the wrong things to stakeholders or missing important steps in the project’s progress. Even if you have to stammer your way through it, you must do something as the leader.
But let’s move on—I could go on and on when it comes to Obama and Biden.