The Emotional Intelligence of Rupert Murdoch

Last Updated Aug 1, 2011 12:04 AM EDT

Given he is so much in the current news it is worth putting Rupert Murdoch under the microscope and trying to work out what makes him tick? Michael Wolff, who wrote an "authorised" biography The Man Who Owns The News, claims that Murdoch is interested only in power and control. Wolff says, "that even money isn't compelling to him, still less the status symbols it might buy. He wants to influence politicians just to show he can; it is a measure of his power and success."
Another blog concurs with this view and says what Murdoch seeks above all else is victory; he wants to win. The results of winning, such as vast amounts of money and power are of far less interest to him than the thrill of winning itself --- of beating the competition. He has even been willing to lose money in order to win. This would indicate that Murdoch's temperament is dominated by the Politician component. However, the same blog notes that Murdoch did not like sports, which is generally a strong interest of those driven by the desire to win.

The counter view was best articulated by John Dean, former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, in an essay "Murdoch's dilemma: himself" Sydney Morning Herald 23-24July 2011. Dean quotes journalist Michael Page "There is only one thing that drives Murdoch: money. He will do anything, and whatever it takes, to make money." This would suggest that Murdoch is dominated by the Hustler component and this view is supported indirectly by Michael Wolff who acknowledges that Murdoch is shady, alarming, dangerous, cold and manipulative. In the same edition of the SMH, David Marr has two bob each way and says Murdoch is neither dominated by the desire for money nor power, but by both.

In the mid-1980s I heard Rupert Murdoch speak at the Securities Institute for the first and only time on News Limited. The room was packed, with over 200 attendees. Murdoch stood up and started by saying, "I am going to review News Limited. The first profit centre I will discuss is The Australian. Last year, The Australian made 103 percent of budgeted sales, 101 percent of budgeted profit, and showed an ROI of 5.1 percent. As of month end, in this financial year The Australian is 106 percent of budgeted sales, 101 percent of budgeted profit and showing an ROI of 7.3 percent. (The figures are made up)." He then proceeded to monotonically talk through another 30 profit centres. This was before PowerPoint. Gradually it began to dawn on the audience that Murdoch was speaking without notes. It was the most devastating performance I have ever seen by a CEO. I have never seen a CEO talk from memory in such precise detail about the financials of his business. I would argue that this conscientious attention to detail demonstrates another component in Murdoch's temperament: the Engineer to drive or desire to complete projects.
I have previously blogged about the EQ of Entrepreneurs saying they need a combination of high E & H components. Murdoch has these two components in spades.

Did he know about the hacking? There is no question that a high E would know.

Was he acting when he was before the Parliamentary Committee? No question high Hs are brilliant actors. Murdoch should get an Oscar.