A true leader acts responsibly
There was both hope and concern when Park Hyun-jung, a successful businesswoman, was appointed in 2013 to head one of the country’s oldest orchestras, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Expectations were that Park, who headed the Women’s Leadership Research Institute, could bring about an effective corporate management system within the city-owned orchestra.
But those hopes were dashed last week after her employees from the orchestra accused her of violating their human rights, using abusive language and sexually harassing them. And now it appears Park may be sacked before her term expires in January 2016.
But in her rebuttal, she countered by lashing out at her employees’ poor work ethic and blamed the orchestra’s music director Chung Myung-hun, an internationally renowned maestro, for turning them against her.
In a press conference, Park denied the allegations of sexual harassment, but admitted that she had used harsh language toward her workers. She cited the impotence of orchestra staff and pointed to Chung as having orchestrated an attempt to oust her.
She added that the maestro adjusted the orchestra’s calendar to meet his own agenda and used it as his own private ensemble. She previously reversed her decision to resign from office in October and insisted on maintaining her post. She admitted to clashing with the staff in the process of trying to restructure such a “lazy and irresponsible organization.”
But the strife appears to have been caused by a difference in perspective between a liberal, inefficient art organization and a corporate CEO used to efficiency and productivity. Park may have her reasons for her actions, but a CEO has the responsibility to convince staff members that such management changes are for the better.
Yet, Park’s ways seem excessive. In one instance, she allegedly told her female employees to “go out and sell records wearing miniskirts,” and that they would be “better working as barmaids.” Publicly insulting one’s own employees does not befit a CEO and only tarnishes the orchestra’s reputation.
A true leader would fix the mess and stand by the company. Park clearly lacks this kind of leadership. The orchestra runs on taxes paid by Seoul citizens. The Seoul city government and the Board of Audit and Inspection should thoroughly and fairly investigate all the allegations around this scandal.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 6, Page 34