Personal conduct–what’s the harm?

Head in brief case

What was he thinking! If it offends your mother, your family, your constituents, or your professional colleagues, don’t do it!


When senior officials or professionals behave contrary to society’s mores or expectations, they undermine the reputations of their office or profession as well as themselves.

Look no further than the top news story of the week, and this week it’s all about New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer. His professional reputation is in shreds, a reputation built as as N.Y. Attorney General and as a crusader against corporate wrong doing. In the parlance of a regulatory client, his behaviour is DDU (disgraceful, disgusting, unprofessional). Based on reports, the Governor used the services of a prostitution ring, repeatedly. What was he thinking? What damage has he done to the reputation of the institutions he leads?

There are character requirements for public office and professions. Some of these are embedded in law and others are implicit in society’s expectations. The intangibles – trust and confidence – make a difference to whether people will accept leadership, use services or take advice. Plus shocking news stories divert public attention from the business at hand.

The impact is real and the likelihood of human misbehaviour, it seems, is pretty high.


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