Higher standards , double standards and no standards in leaders

So the CEO of Mozilla resigned – and I saw the news on twitter last night when I came back to my hotel room . And the question that came to mind was – should CEOs and other leaders be held to a higher standard ? Do double standards apply to some ? And are there any lines that can be drawn on what is appropriate and what is not ?

I am a HUGE fan of equality . And I have many friends in the LGBT community . I know what pain prop 8 caused those of them in California – and hence when I first saw this news on twitter , my instinct was that it is a good thing that he is no longer the CEO.

And then I thought of politicians with extra marital affairs that became public – including a past president . Some of them left public life , some – like Clinton – didn’t . Well, Clinton apologized – but he didn’t resign from office . And years later , it seems his other good deeds compensated for his bad deeds and he is touted as a great leader .

If rewind a lot more in history – there is Adolf Hitler who ruled over Germany . He was a vegetarian and was faithful to his wife . He loved his dog dearly . But he also did extremely bad things and the fact that he didn’t have extra marital affairs nor his vegetarian diet was used by anyone to cut him some slack in history . And that is the way it should be – there is no justification .

Nehru, India’s first PM, had a public romantic relationship with Edwina Mountbatten even before Independence . That didn’t stop him from being elected back to back till he died .

The point here is – we have historically judged leaders on the impact of their “day job” – not on other things they did or said . In the grand scheme of things – Clinton, Hitler and Nehru all had more powerful jobs than the CEO of Mozilla . This is why I am wondering if there are double standards in how we evaluate leaders .

America is a republic – and citizens have rights guaranteed by constitution . Whether I agree with him or not – and I don’t – He is free to have his own opinions and beliefs . He doesn’t need to conform to anyone else’s belief system . Even if he is in an absolute minority – he can stay true to his beliefs as a citizen of USA . So this is where I wonder maybe there are no standards to be applied – if someone like a CEO doesn’t conform to popular sentiment, then maybe all bets are off these days , and his constitutional rights don’t give him much of a benefit . I feel kind of uncomfortable with that line of thinking – everyone is a minority in some way , and that is the reason why rights are guaranteed in the first place . But legal rights don’t mean society holds the same opinion .

Could he have protected his company’s equality culture while personally being opposed to gay marriage ? I don’t know – there wasn’t enough time to find out given he had the job only for 11 days . But going by the examples of Nehru and Clinton – those guys didn’t try to make rules legitimizing adultery, despite their own weaknesses on that front . So maybe Eich could have pulled it off – or maybe he could not have .

Increasingly , we tend to not have lines drawn in sand . World just seems to have a lot more grey areas with every passing day . I usually have a strong opinion on these things – but this time I am just pretty thoroughly confused .


Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

4 thoughts on “Higher standards , double standards and no standards in leaders

  1. The original trigger appears to be Eich’s donation (in 2008 !!) supporting Proposition 8. As an aside, I would be more impressed if they managed to Obama to resign – while he’s changed his mind now, he was definitely anti gay marriage during his first election. My biggest concern though is that once you get through the weasel words, Eich was sacked because of his beliefs. At best, it was that old “you wouldn’t fit in around here anyway”.

    Part of the reason for this is the correlation in people’s minds behind proposition and being anti-gay. For an example of how the two are completely divorced, I give you Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot;t His gay sister (who wants to marry her partner) says that just because Mr Abbott is against gay marriage, he is not anti-gay. But that’s family… a better example is the relationship between Mr Abbot and Lt Col. Cate McGregor AM – see http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/callmecate/default.htm


  2. Bottom line is you need to be politically correct, if you aspire to be a leader, CEO or politics.
    Vijay you will recall what was made out of Shashi Tharoor’s remarks about flying cabin. LOL


  3. Apart from the fact that, as a Christian, I can appreciate his stance, I think it’s really sad that Americans don’t practice freedom of speech. Having said that, there’s an interesting analysis of the story in the Economist.


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