When deeds don’t match words

From New York, a lesson in what can happen when you fail to do what you say.

I am on the road for a few weeks in the US and so will be filing my blogs from wherever I happen to be. This week I am in New York and the story everyone is talking about is the implosion of Governor Eliot Spitzer. So what happened?


For people who don’t follow US politics, and especially not local US politics, the snapshot is as follows. Crime fighting attorney general and “good guy”, known for zealously going after high-profile white collar criminals, prostitution rings and mafia types, runs for Governor of New York and wins in a walk. Fast-forward not quite 18 months and the same “good guy” is suddenly the “badly burned toast of New York” after is it uncovered that he has been dallying with a prostitute – to the tune of $80,000.


Now normally no one would care all that much about a man and a prostitute – it’s hardly news, except when the man in question has spent his career taking the very high moral ground on any number of issues and has been particularly vocal about that very topic. So more than anything, his crime has become one of blatant hypocrisy. Exit Governor Spitzer, enter late night punch line.


The lesson in this modern farce is easy to see, and is also one that I talk about often. When what you say is in opposition to what you do, something has got to give and that something is very often your reputation and credibility (and in the case of Eliot Spitzer, your career and life as you know it).


I have previously written about the importance of words here. But just as important as the right words is what you do with them. And in the end, not doing what you say doesn’t have to rise to anywhere near the level of the Spitzer story to have an impact on your organisation.

See you next week from Denver.



Michel Hogan is an independent consultant and practising brand heretic, who firmly believes that success for organisations starts on the inside with alignment between beliefs and actions, a passion she explores daily in her work here with Brandology and in the United States with the Brand Alignment Group .

For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.


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