Sometimes how a person answers a simple hypothetical question tells us all we need to know to understand their character. Take this one, for example, which cuts to the core of the qualities of leadership;
Scenario; You are Prime Minister of country. The press break a story that your Deputy has been having an affair with a member of his staff, has deserted his wife and family, jerrymandered the recruitment and selection process twice to ensure his new partner remains employed in good roles, received a “gift” of a rent-free apartment to house her and they are now expecting the birth of their child in 2 months’ time. Previously, the Deputy Prime Minister has been a vocal supporter of “family values”.
A) Confirm that there are no impediments to removing him from his post and replacing him with a more suitable candidate based on pre-existing codes of conduct relating to bringing parliament and the office of the Prime Minister in to disrepute and then do so with immediate effect?
B) Give him the benefit of the doubt, gracefully allow him a suitable period of time to state his case and to show some level of contrition but then, with a heavy heart, remove him from his post in order to maintain the gravitas of parliament and the office of Prime Minister as paramount?
C) Dither about for a week or so, force him to take a long weekend paid “leave” and then make a public statement to “update the ministerial code of conduct” to explicitly state that knocking up your staff and dumping your wife is not acceptable these days but do nothing tangible about the situation in the hope that Donald Trump will tweet something inflammatory over the weekend that diverts the news agenda?
There’s a special place in hell for people who claim to be leaders but soil their underwear the first time they are faced with a difficult decision which requires some level of consistency with previously-stated moral positions.
If you feel that this is a trivial point, remember that the person in this job has the ability to send troops to fire live rounds, both internationally and, in extremis, domestically.
“Over the top lads, I’m right behind you!”.