Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Real Leaders Don’t Cheat

All right, I just can’t resist the urge to sound off about my own New York State Governor, Eliot Spitzer. It seems that our esteemed “leader” has been involved in a prostitution ring, having allegedly spent over $80,000 on hookers over the last few years. And he had one transported from New York City to Washington, all expenses paid, ON VALENTINE’S DAY no less. How romantic.

As if all of this wasn’t disgusting enough, he then drags his poor wife up on stage at his press conference to stand by him as he apologizes. The last we heard, he’s been locked up in his Manhattan apartment all day with his lawyers trying to work out a deal. So much for being there for his wife and three daughters.

So does personal character and integrity matter in a leader? Should we forgive an elected official or business executive for human weaknesses, indecent indiscretions, and utterly stupid lapses in judgment, as long as they still perform at a high level?


Character IS leadership, or at least a big part of it. There are no lines between public performance and private actions. Leadership isn’t something you bring to the office and turn on, and then turn it off when no one’s looking. In fact, it’s precisely when no one’s looking that tests our leadership. That’s when our character (or lack of) really comes through.

Remember the 1979 movie, "Breaking Away"? Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher) is wrapped up in a fantasy world where he's an Italian bike racer. He has an opportunity to race against an Italian cycling team visiting Bloomington, Ind., that he has worshiped from afar. But when he shows that he can keep up with them, naively believing they will admire the purity of his effort, they throw him into a ditch and his fantasy world comes crashing down. "Everybody cheats," he says resignedly.

Well you know what? Real leaders don’t cheat. Never. If you lie, steal, abuse your power, break the law, and yes, cheat on your spouse, then perhaps you’re just a flawed human being that deserves forgiveness and another chance. But sorry, you’re no leader. Please do us all a favor and step aside.


Louise said...

It leaves one speechless that elected and non-elected 'leaders' are fodder for the press due to their utter stupidity and abuse of the trust that other's expect of them.'

The guy should do the decent thing
and resign. Egoist have a hard time going against their hubris. I'm not going to hold my breath.

GenerationXpert said...

I couldn't agree with you more.