Should A Blameless Leader Resign?
In the last few weeks there have been two leadership situations that at first glance look far removed from each other.
The first is the scandal of automaker Volkwagen for falsifying emissions data to circumvent regulatory standards. In the few days that the news broke, VW’s stock price tanked and many countries cried for full investigations of the company and other auto manufacturers. A few days later, CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned, stating:
“I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part,” Winterkorn said after an emergency meeting with Volkswagen directors.
Closer to where I live, a pastor of a small local church resigned, stating to his congregation that he feels that some of his grown children are not staying true to the faith, and as a result he feels he cannot lead a good example to the congregation. By not wanting to have any cause for hypocrisy or blame, he said he was stepping down and leaving his pastoral career behind.
These two leaders, while much different in their circumstances, pose an interesting question:
Should a blameless leader resign if there is no wrongdoing on their part?
For arguments sake let’s take into account some quick points:
- Let’s presume “innocent until proven guilty” particularly in the case of Winterkorn
- Both men, while leaders over their staff and family, are ultimately responsible for the actions of their staff, and children
- Both VW’s staff and the pastor’s grown children are responsible enough to make their own decisions apart from their father or chief executive
- Both men feel that it was best to remove themselves from their post so that they can free up the organization to get through these challenges and transition forward over time
So, should these men have resigned, or not? Their choice to do so poses some thoughts to ponder:
- If a leader is innocent, should they stay on board to keep a consistent and steady presence?
- Should they leave so a shadow of doubt over their credibility doesn’t affect their leadership?
- Would the strain of criticism, allegations, and other fallout render them ineffective for their role?
- If you were in a similar position, what would you do?
I’m interested in your comments and insights!!