Seth Godin, an Inc 100 Top Leadership expert, wrote a great blog post called Shame is a Brand Killer.
What I like about this article is that this is also true of leaders, as it is of companies or leading brands.
When our teams or our followers see us doing something that they disagree with or that goes against what they value, then it creates a rift between the leader and the followers, and once this rift is created, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to repair it.
People follow us because they believe in us and trust us, but once we start to jeopardise that trust, then we risk losing them forever.
The amazing thing is that this can happen over very small things. There was a big expense scandal amongst British MPs nearly 20 years ago who were claiming expenses for things that either didn’t exist or where they were not really incurring any expense.
In many cases, the amounts were not great—only 100 pounds—but even so, the damage was done. These MPs had shown themselves to be dishonest, and for those followers for whom this is a strong value, it means the end of the trust and relationship.
As leaders, we need to be aware of these things and make sure that we keep even the smallest transgressions off of our reputations.