There is no need to pile on South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford for his problems. There is enough opinions flying about should he resign or not and the future of his marriage. But there is an organizational and career lesson to be learned from the good Governor’s adventures. The lesson is, if you indulge in bad behavior and misdeeds you will get caught. I repeat, You Will Get Caught. Since most people, even children, know they will get caught, it just makes me wonder when high profile people do irresponsible things.
At work, in general, truth will prevail. I have just seen it too many times. It may not happen immediately, but bad people doing bad things do get caught. So will you.
In that light, I have questions for the Governor, I know he won’t answer them but I am dying of organizational curiosity:
- Did you think you could go away for five days in another country to meet you girlfriend and not tell any one where you were going and that you wouldn’t get caught? If a state employee like a clerk at the DMV in South Carolinadid that, no doubt, he or she would get caught and probably be fired. The Governor is a state employee.
- Did you have fun in Argentina knowing that the entire country was wondering what the hell happened to you especially since your wife was saying she didn’t know where you were either? Bernie Madoff knew for years that he would get caught and ran his business accordingly and maybe he is a guiltless guy but when you know you will get caught it sort of takes the fun out of the trouble you can make.
- Have you heard of John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or the guy who taps his foot under the stall in the men’s room? These guys aren’t from ancient history. I have heard parallels drawn to you and Herodotus, Thucydides and other guys I sort of remember from Western Civilization 101, but the examples of getting caught are recent and frequent.
- Do you remember high school? In high school if you were dating one girl and went out with another, the entire school knew by the next day. Now all of Argentina and the US at least, know all about your love lives.
- Do you want to run for President? Even Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett and Iran couldn’t get you off the front page. I am afraid your judgment and morals are now always at the top of the Q&A.
- What about later, did you think about that? Fantasize forward to a time when you could be elected to a bigger office. That is the time when all the information would come out anyway. JFK and Thomas Jefferson are still getting caught.
- What did you plan to say to everyone when you returned since I bet you assumed you would get caught? OK, I know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I apologize to everyone I hurt.
- Who did you sit next to on the airplane to Argentina and did you fly first class? There must be a good story there when your seatmate asked, “What do you do?”
People are fascinated by the Governor’s Big Adventure and it is mind boggling how he even pulled it off logistically. Like so many others before him, he is caught and the lesson for you, and me and everyone at any level in the organization: Do something weird or bad and you will get caught.