- Scenario 1: A manager always turns out the light and locks his door before leaving for the day, unless he slips out before 5 p.m. Then he leaves the light on and the door open, giving the appearance that he’s still somewhere in the workplace.
- Scenario 2: A manager and several of her buddies among the team members go to lunch at a restaurant known much more for its alcoholic beverages than the food on its menu. They return laughing and all chewing peppermint gum.
- Scenario 3: A male manager takes a beautiful new female team member to lunch, and they are gone for two hours.
There may be an innocent explanation for every one of those scenarios. The first manager may have met a mentor nearby for coffee or dinner before returning to the office after everyone else had gone home. In the second scenario, it’s possible that no one at the restaurant drank anything stronger than a soda. In the third scenario, the manager may have decided to conduct training at the restaurant after the two ate lunch.
You may think that situations like that are none of your team members’ business. Your employees should be focusing on their work and not spying on you. The truth is that they are much more attentive to your actions than you realize. They are paying attention to what you do. They will gossip about you. Make assumptions about your actions. Some will even follow your example. Most problematic is that they won’t respect and trust you if they think you behave unethically. Once you lose their trust and respect, you lose your ability to effectively lead them.
So what can you do? It starts by doing the right thing. You may have worked your way into a leadership position, but that doesn’t grant you permission to abuse your authority. Follow the rules. Do your fair share. Don’t be shady. It’s that simple.
Beyond that, transparency and open communication are key. Should you tell employees every detail of your professional or personal life? Absolutely not. However, tell them what you can. Be honest. That’s the best way to prevent gossip from spreading.