MSNBC’S CHRIS MATTHEWS TALKS LEADERSHIP AND POLITICS
BY ROCHELLE BRODER-SINGER

matthews.jpgPolitical commentator Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” discussed the mistakes he made in not predicting Donald Trump’s presidential win, his views on what leadership truly requires and more at the School’s Cobb Leadership Lecture on Feb. 1.

Some 350 students, alumni, faculty and staff packed Storer Auditorium and its overflow room for the event, which is funded by an endowment from Ambassador Sue Cobb in honor of her husband, Ambassador Chuck Cobb, a member of the School’s Board of Overseers and the UM Board of Trustees.

GETTING TRUMP’S WIN WRONG

Matthews – talking quickly and, often, with humor, began with what he called “a confession.” During the most recent presidential campaign, the self-described “center-left” leaner was confident that Hillary Clinton would win. “It’s not just that I got it wrong,” he said. “It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in years of commentary and being just me. I followed the crowd. I hate following the crowd. I’ve made a living of betting against the margin, of not believing in the common wisdom.”

One reason he got it wrong, Matthews said, was because he went along with pollsters. They were incorrect, in large part, he believes, because those they surveyed didn’t want to say they would vote for Trump.

“They thought the pollster would look down on them,” he said, noting that telephone polls conducted by live humans in Pennsylvania put Clinton ahead by eight points, while those conducted with recorded voices put Trump ahead by two. The recorded polls were accurate.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LEADER: DEALMAKING MATTERS!

Campaigning in one form or another is key to success in business as well as politics, especially when you’re just starting out, Matthews said. He advised students, especially, to “ask for stuff from other people,” and noted that helpers become invested in a person’s success and are likely to keep investing in that person.

Another of Matthews’ lessons in leadership:  “Leadership has to do with dealing with other people,” he said. “It has to do with relating with other people, taking the first step to cut a deal.” Good leaders, he said, must negotiate. “Trade-offs – they help you get what you want to get,” he explained.

This willingness to negotiate and make trade-offs is missing in Washington today, Matthews lamented; and he blamed, in part, the way parties fundraise. “You can raise a lot of money by arguing – but a solution shuts down all the fundraising,” he said. “We’ve got to press politicians for dealmaking.” These deals, he said, will only come from behind-closed-doors conversations and negotiations, in which each side finds out what the other is willing to give on. “The fear I have is that they’re all afraid, afraid to make the deals that will save this country,” he said.

Spring 2017
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Is dealmaking important for good leadership?

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