What liberties are you taking?

July 11, 2011


Gov. Chris Christie says he used a state police helicopter for two personal trips, including to fly to his son’s baseball game. He gave the “good father” defense, citing “the realities of life” (i.e., the competing demands of parenthood and a job serving his constituents 80 hours a week).

Not many could argue with the desire to be a good parent and the impulse to act on it. But Gov. Christie not only broke the law, he used his constituents’ tax money to do so. There are plenty of hardworking parents who wish they could be more present in their kids’ lives–and who would be and are infuriated that their public servant did so at their expense.

I have heard similar “good father” or “realities of life” justifications from CEOs of public companies when they ride on a corporate jet. A dear friend used to commute daily on a private jet and be back to pick up his kids from school. Public officers aren’t usually audited as often or as rigorously as those who work in the private sector, so they are more inclined to take liberties–perhaps because the “owner” of the company is less defined and more diffuse.

Just because your organization’s owner is absent or unlikely to audit, doesn’t mean that you are entitled to take liberties.

What questionable practices, if discovered, might undermine your leadership? What liberties should you stop taking?

Reach your next peak

We help leaders expand the change they want to see in their teams, organizations, and the wider world.