With Roger Goodell’s underwhelming press conference today, a lot of the talking head chatter has centered around whether Goodell is the right man to fix all of the problems he created. Part of leadership is convincing others that you are worthy enough to be their leader, and the fact that the discussion questioning Goodell’s place as the one to lead the NFL out of this quagmire is even happening is a blackmark on Goodell’s leadership record. There comes a point in any crisis where a leader can no longer count on their followers to trust in them to lead them to safety, a tipping point. It’s at that point that the leader can no longer be an effective leader.
Mike Dee’s tenure as CEO of the Padres can only be described as rocky. His management team has endured public snafu after public snafu. To some degree, these issues were written off by fans as learning curve issues, not that big a deal, or quickly forgotten. I wouldn’t say that Mike Dee and his management team was a popular one, but they were at least still being tolerated by the fan base. It was not until the #BSplaza fiasco, that a potential tipping point was reached. #BSplaza gave the fans something to rally around to express their displeasure that management apparently knew nothing about what their fans thought, valued and cared about. Dee only made things worse by condescendingly (yes Wayne Partello, Mike Dee was extraordinarily condescending) telling fans that they just didn’t remember or weren’t old enough to remember the process of getting Petco Park built. In perhaps the most condescending statement, Mike Dee said Bud Selig should be commended for helping the Fowler ownership group purchase the Padres, which of course directly led to Mike Dee’s hiring – so we the fans should be excited to honor Bud Selig because he helped Mike Dee get his lofty position as CEO. In the midst of the #BSplaza crisis, the team threw a Social Media Summit, where they handpicked a crowd of bloggers/tweeters to enjoy a catered breakfast, meet team personnel, and enjoy the game in a suite. At the Summit, Mike Dee and Wayne Partello apparently explained in more detail their actions, and hoped that this would then filter down to the fan base through these blogs. And it worked. For a while. The blogs in attendance wrote favorable accounts of the Summit with most believing that the team really “gets it” now. Mission accomplished, right?
Out of nowhere, the #BSplaza debate exploded on Twitter this morning. Jay Posner called out Wayne Partello on his statements about the slow progress in deciding on a uniform change:
This started a long debate between Posner and Partello that many fans joined in on, including me. The specifics of the debate aren’t really relevant to this post, but suffice it to say, fans are still pissed about #BSplaza and are still pissed about no apparent action on bringing back brown uniforms. This got me thinking – fans are still hurt/pissed/angry about things that happened 20 years ago in Padresland. Any time a player is traded, the 1994 fire sale is immediately brought up. Yesterday I saw a Tweet from @jeremy_nash:
I think we can all agree that having an extra game where the Padres play in brown is a net benefit to us, the advocates for bringing back brown. But as soon as the Padres made the announcement, a flood of cynics began to post comments questioning the sincerity of the Padres, accusing the Padres of only throwing this bone to the fans in hopes of pushing off permanently bringing back the brown, etc. This immediately led to comments about how out of touch Dee and management is, “as proven by #BSplaza”. So if something that can pretty much only be characterized as a great thing gets met with a ton of derision, where do the Padres go from here. It seems like Mike Dee may have hit that tipping point where anything he does, whether good, bad or great, is met with negativity, distrust, and accusations of sinister alternate motivations and plans. That’s not good for a leader. Any leader wants to believe that when faced with adversity, they can innovate and implement ideas and plans to turn things around. The discussion today on Twitter made me question whether Mike Dee can do that anymore. I wonder if he can remain as CEO and still function as an effective leader of this team, at least in the eyes of this fan base.
As a caveat on the bringing back the brown issue. Wayne Partello said this on the topic:
I firmly believe the team will change to brown uniforms this offseason. I’ve put that on the record on the Gwynntelligence podcasts, and I’m writing it here. It’s a cost effective, easy way to temporarily regain the trust, favor and faith of the fanbase. At this point, I think we can all expect an All Star game announcement from Bud Selig and the Padres in a couple months. The Padres can hold onto the bringing back the brown announcement until free agency dies down, and regardless of what moves the team makes or doesn’t make to improve the roster, Mike Dee can throw another web “press conference” announcing the new uniforms and the fan base will rejoice, totally forgetting the abysmal 2014. Going into spring training, Mike Dee can declare “we listened to our fans and made the uniform change” while also trumpeting the All Star game that we’ve waited 10 years for.
So as ineffective as Mike Dee has been so far as CEO of the Padres, without the “surprise” bringing back the brown uniforms trump card, I believe he would be unable to lead this team or regain the trust of the fan base. Lucky for him, he’s got that trump card, as it will serve as a Get Out of Jail free card for him to start fresh in 2015. At least until the next PR crisis.