He was wrong. That’s about all you can say. Perhaps not technically, maybe not to the letter of the law but we all know what’s what and we all know right from wrong.
I don’t know anyone who would have driven their family from London to Durham, in the middle of a lockdown.
I do know a good few mums and dads who, somehow or other, managed to handle self isolating and their kids, at the same time.
I certainly know a good few people who think it is bonkers to take a drive in the car, to test one’s eyesight… on yer wife’s birthday.
I shall always remember Lord Nolan, who was asked to report into the conduct of public life, following the cash-for-questions affair. It was John Major’s idea. I interviewed him for one of the HR magazines.
I asked him what the overriding principle was and he said;
‘If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.’
The Cummins affair doesn’t look right. In fact it looks wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
He could have said;
‘… my wife was sick, my son was coming down with something, I guessed I’d probably be viral, too. So, I piled us all into the car and headed for my parents. Looking back, it was the wrong thing to do and I’m sorry, but I was trying to be a good dad, a supportive husband and I’ve turned out to be a lousy role model and I’m sorry.’
A lot of people might have gone along with that. Instead, nearly 70% of the public think Domonic Cummins is wrong. My view, he looks like an elitist and a shyster.
That leaves us with BoJo. Both strike me as spoiled brats, used to getting their own way, either by bullying or bluster. Using their talents to explore the tensile strength of the truth.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, you can’t say that BoJo isn’t a Tammy Wynette manager. Willing to ‘stand by his man’.
Loyalty, in this case, misplaced but it is a good quality for a manager to have. Not all people get all things right, all of the time. When people do foul-up, a loyal manager, ready to step in and sort out a mess, is the kind of friend-in-the-business, we all need.
It’s the manager’s job to bring out the best in people. Lift them when they are down.
What happens when people go wrong?
It’s easy for managers to get absorbed in trying to change behaviours, fix-it. It’s called ‘owning’ a situation. If a manager finds a problem, steps forward to own it and resolve it, that manager is a long way down the road to becoming a leader.
There are lots of ways to demonstrate loyalty: staff health and well-being, training and promote from within, recognition and reward and rehiring people who have left, sends a good signal.
But, when there is a line to be drawn, loyalty can be misplaced.
Sometimes the manager has to be the boss. The job of the boss is all about standards… if something doesn’t look right, it won’t look right to others and people will be looking to see how you react.
When a star performer really messes up the time might come for a conversation. The conversation that says;
‘You know, under almost every normal circumstances I would stand by you, but his is not normal and my role is to set an example to others. I can’t let this go and we are going to have to part company. Let’s do it on good terms.’
Loyalty is not elastic and it’s not superglue. Loyalty is something that is built on respect, founded on trust and stands with mutual understanding.
Expecting the best and doing the best, for each other. It is not one-sided, it keeps no tally of rights or wrongs. It is not self seeking and cannot be exploited.
BoJo has to decide where his loyalties are. To a man whom he trusted to do the right thing, or to the nation looking to a Prime Minister, to do things right.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley