What do you think when asked about a hypocritical leader? Do some particular figures appear on your mind?
Mark Foley was a U.S. Congressman and a respectful figure in the fight against child exploitation and pornography. He introduced a bill to outlaw the print and digital publishing of sexually suggestive modelling pictures of underage children, citing that they were fixed for paedophiles. And yet, in 2006, Foley was caught in a sex scandal. Investigation found that Foley sent explicit instant messages and emails about sexual-related topics to teenage boys. Pleaded guilty, Foley then resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006.
Eliot Spitzer, a New York Governor, was a rising star in the Democratic Party. He upheld on political corruption and his moral crusade against prostitution rings and organised crime. Then, he was riding on approval ratings with the female voters supported him so much. But then, he was caught by Federal wiretaps arranging sexual intercourse with a 22-year-old high-end prostitute for several thousand dollars an hour. He did not deny his action and in a conference, accompanied by his wife, Spitzer admitted guilt and resigned the governorship.
Hypocritical leaders are indeed a virus to an organisation. Foley and Spitzer, for example, they preached and acted in contradiction to their belief. Their acts are what is called hypocrisy, which if not handled seriously, it will affect an organisation’s good name and reputation. Therefore, willingly or unwillingly, they should send a resignation letter.
Moreover, hypocrites can be a sign of failure for a company or organisation as it can lead to greater employee turnover and loss of talents. Josh Cote, a motivational speaker and founder of EAW Consulting Ltd., stated that “when a leader tells people what to do, the leader might be perceived as hypocritical” because what leader does give greater impact than what they say. Thus, telling without acting can increase the likelihood of hypocrisy which will turn to staff turnover and loss of talent.
“In order to successfully lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself, as this destroys any lingering suggestions of hypocrisy in a given leadership style.” – Josh Cote
A study on ‘When Leaders Fail to “Walk the Talk”’ showed a parallel to what Cote emphasised. The study examined the relationship between justice expectation and supervisor undermining. The results found that supervisor undermining is harmful especially when they set an expectation for other employees to engage in interpersonal justice. Interpersonal justice refers to a manner when outcomes are communicated with an employee at interpersonal level. The worst is, when leaders expect others to engage in interpersonal justice and they do not do the practice themselves, thusly, they are viewed as hypocritical which affects company bottom line and results to higher employees’ turnover.
Lastly, to overcome this, both leader and entire staffs should not practice any kind of hypocrisy act. You can do this by behaving in accordance with what you said and by giving value to what others say. By doing this, there will be less stress, lower absenteeism, and fewer health complaints. In addition, ensuring yourself and others to practice the talk will give more positive outcome for both employees and business.
“Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most sublime speculations; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it costs nothing to have it magnificent.” – Edmund Burke