So the French president has apparently been caught with his pants down. Who cares? Apparently not the French public.

Should we be bothered what public sector leaders do outside of work? As long as it does not affect their work or bring their office in to disrepute what business is it of ours what they get up to in their private lives? Or do you think if someone lies to their wife they are just as likely to lie to colleagues? Can you lie and cheat in one area of life but be trusted in another? 

‘Can you lie and cheat in one area of life but be trusted in another?’

My first reaction was not to make a moral judgment and to remind myself how many colleagues I have worked with and trusted but who are divorced as a result of an affair at work and a few more who aren’t but have.

Then I thought of those public sectors senior managers caught fiddling or massaging the figures and a lot more suspected of it but not caught. The usual explanation for this behaviour is the pressure on managers to deliver on overambitious targets, the fear of failure and the all consuming pursuit of the top job but may be they were always prepared to cheat. It’s just that the stakes got higher as they climbed the ladder.

Extracurricular activities

When I stared out in social work I knew this guy socially through playing football. One night after training in the pub one of his team mates asked him how come he always seemed to be driving a different car. He said he had a mate who owned a garage and sold second hand cars and they had this arrangement where he would sell the cars privately as his own. He explained second hand car dealers have a bad reputation, people don’t trust them and if you sell are car through a garage the buyer has certain rights and trading standards get involved.

“But if I advertise a car in the paper giving my home address and telephone number people think it is a private sale and are happier to do a deal. There is the added advantage for my mate that there is no comeback if something goes wrong with the car,” he said.

He justified this by saying: “Everyone knows if you buy privately it’s buyer beware.”

What he did may not have been illegal but it was unethical. If I had been his manager his extracurricular activities would have concerned me much more than the knowledge of a colleague having an affair.