Francois Hollande is under pressure after a report in the press that he is allegedly having an affair with actress Julie Gayet. Although it might be interesting to reflect on the different attitudes of French society to politician’s personal affairs and mistresses, the question for me is can this teach us anything about leadership in a broader sense?

One thought is yes it does, because when we become leaders at any level we may have to say goodbye to something. When promoted to a team leader role, it may be that we can no longer be friends with our colleagues, friendly yes, but not friends, at least not in working hours. We may also expect not to be included in some of the ‘gossip’ that is exchanged in the team. If being a leader means making decisions on hiring and firing, feeding back on performance, disciplining where required, establishing clear expectations, delivering sometimes very difficult messages based on decisions from above, these are not friendly actions and so we may need to leave being friends behind.

Being a leader may mean we have to say goodbye to some things and maybe a political leader has to say goodbye to any thoughts that their private life will be private, and expect that private decisions will be judged in the same way as political decisions. Perhaps Francoise Hollande has to say goodbye to personal affairs and focus totally on his responsibilities as president, whilst he holds that role.

Can Francois Hollande’s personal ‘affairs’ teach us anything about leadership?
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