If you somehow missed the story, Scott Thompson was ousted by Yahoo after the company found that Thompson had lied about his credentials. His résumé claimed that he’d earned a computer science degree, though that degree wasn’t offered by his college until after he’d graduated.
In the wake of the scandal, many people debated over how big of an offense it really was.
Was a résumé fib a big deal or a little one?
As one Forbes writer asked, doesn’t it matter more that he’s a good leader doing a good job? This, the writer asserted, is a little one-time lie, not a major ethical breach.
Others, such asblogger Wally Bock, insist that a CEO should be held to the highest standards. Fudging on a résumé is hardly an unintentional act.
“He’s done it before. And he’ll do it again,” says Bock. “I’m real sure that investors and regulatory bodies do not want to guess when Thompson is lying about something substantive. Neither do strategic partners.”
According to PR consultant Chris Salt, silence is not the solution when you’re in the throes of managing your reputation. Offense is the best defense.
He points to an example from 1995, when actor Hugh Grant had been caught in a “moment of madness” with a prostitute.
Instead of hiding from the limelight, he went on national television to make a public apology. That was step one in restoring his reputation.
In most cases, a leader can’t afford to stay in the shadows when reputation is at stake.
— Adapted from “The CEO as Liar,” Wally Bock, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog.