The week@work – Leadership lessons from FIFA, ways to boost job security & the ‘small, happy life’

Early Wednesday morning Swiss authorities entered a high end hotel in Zurich and arrested 14 FIFA officials on a variety of charges including wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering. On Friday, Seth Blatter was reelected to his fifth term as President of FIFA. Subsequent reports throughout the week illuminated Mr. Blatter’s leadership style.

His response to the arrests and accepting responsibility as the most powerful leader in soccer:

“Many people hold me responsible. I can’t monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.”

Apparently the buck doesn’t stop at Mr. Blatter’s desk.

Writing in the Opinion Pages of The New York Times, columnist, Roger Cohen provided a rationale for Blatter to step down:

“Mr. Blatter, your time is up.

Why? Because the corruption charges against current and former FIFA vice presidents and others reflect an organization rotten to its core, operating in the absence of any meaningful oversight, without term limits for a president whose salary is of course unknown (but estimated by Bloomberg to be “in the low double-digit” millions), overseeing $5.72 billion in partially unaccounted revenue for the four years to December 2014, governing a sport in which matches and World Cup venues and in fact just about everything appears to have been up for sale, burying a report it commissioned by a former United States attorney into the bidding process for the next two World Cups, and generally operating in a culture of cavalier disdain personified by Blatter, whose big cash awards to soccer federations in poorer countries have turned the delegates from many of FIFA’s 209 member associations into his fawning acolytes.”

Why should we care? On Wednesday, Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post published a story, ‘The human toll of FIFA’s corruption’.

“On the surface, it’s just another white collar crime story: rich, powerful men making themselves richer and more powerful. But a closer look suggests that there is a lot of real-world suffering happening as a direct result of FIFA’s decisions.”

“Human rights advocates’ worst fears about Qatar seemed to be confirmed as Qatar began building the infrastructure to host the Cup, and reports of migrant worker deaths started to pile up. The numbers, to the extent that we know them, appear startling: A Guardian investigation last year revealed that Nepalese migrant workers were dying at a rate of one every two days. In sum, the Guardian put the total Qatar death toll of workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh at 964 in 2012 and 2013.”

Perhaps we would all like to be a bit more secure at work, while not employing the extreme tactics of the FIFA president.

The ABC network affiliate in Sacramento, California aired a story on ‘Nine Ways to Boost Your Job Security‘. Number one is to do good work. Some of the other suggestions included continuing to learn to maintain your competitive advantage and never get too comfortable in your job. In other words, security and comfort are not synonymous.

The two tactics that stood out for me were to know yourself, and establish alternate revenue streams. “A 401k plan, prudent investments, side businesses, and lucrative hobbies can offer temporary financial support if you were to find yourself without a steady income.”

From the billions of FIFA to normal folk seeking security at work, the last story of the week comes from The New York Times columnist, David Brooks. On Friday his topic was ‘The Small, Happy Life’. He was surprised by the result of his request for essays from readers on “their purpose in life and how they found it”.

“I expected most contributors would follow the commencement-speech clichés of our high-achieving culture: dream big; set ambitious goals; try to change the world. In fact, a surprising number of people found their purpose by going the other way, by pursuing the small, happy life.”

So here’s one for you, Mr. Blatter. Not that you will ever read it. But if you did, you could learn something from the response from one of Mr. Brooks’ readers.

“Elizabeth Young once heard the story of a man who was asked by a journalist to show his most precious possession. The man, Young wrote, “was proud and excited to show the journalist the gift he had been bequeathed. A banged up tin pot he kept carefully wrapped in cloth as though it was fragile. The journalist was confused, what made this dingy old pot so valuable? ‘The message,’ the friend replied. The message was ‘we do not all have to shine.’ This story resonated deeply. In that moment I was able to relieve myself of the need to do something important, from which I would reap praise and be rewarded with fulfillment. My vision cleared.”

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