Censure, they say, is the price a person pays for holding a public office. And public office is public trust. And trust, according to J.C Maxwell, is the solid ground of leadership.
So the man or woman who holds public office must always act in a manner which will not leave an iota of doubt in the minds of the led, the followers, or which will not make the led second guess his or her intention or reduce their estimation of him. If Caesar’s wife must be beyond every suspicion, then Caesar must be exemplary in both his public and private conducts.
We expect higher standards from holders of public office not because we do not know that they, like us, have weaknesses but because they are the lengthened shadows of our collective values and should be exemplary.
Leaders who are measured by the same standards as their followers eventually lose their aura. People do not follow those they are also greater than. And when a person assumes public trust, they lose their “private status”; they become “public property”.Their (mis)deeds attracts public attention, anger, condemnation and jubilation. Before you become a leader, it is all about you. When you become become a leader, it is all about others"….
A story is told of a woman who wanted her child to stop taking sugar but woefully failed in her attempts. She then travelled to Delhi to meet Mahatma Gandhi, to request Mahatma to warn the child against eating sugar because it was not good for his diet or his developing teeth. I cannot tell him that. But you may bring him back in a month” Gandhi replied. The woman was disappointed but could not argue.
When the four weeks came, the woman and her child visited again. Gandhi took the child’s hands into his and with tenderness he told the child “Do you eat sugar, my child, it is not good for you”. Grateful but perplexed, the woman asked “why didnt you say that a month” “Well, a month ago i was still taking sugar” replied Gandhi.
This story of Gandhi and the child illustrates integrity, the congruence between words and deeds. A leader who lacks integrity sooner loses the trust of the people. A leader who loses the trust of the people sooner loses the ability to influence. An people are quicker to notice credibility gap in a leader,
“Assume a virtue if you have it no”