President Hollande – There’s a Hole in your Trustworthiness

The latest scandal in France with President Hollande, regarding his First Lady-cum-Second-Girlfriend-cum-Three’s a Party, has brought to the forefront the divide between personal and professional life. In France, the refrain is frequent: what’s personal is private. It’s considered the French touch, a cultural heritage. In an environment where trust is lacking and in a technologically enabled era where transparency is basically a conduit to trust, President Hollande’s secret tryst has made a mockery of the Office of the President.

Trustworthiness in leadership

In evaluating President Hollande’s management of his personal relationship, I think it absolutely matters in terms of gauging his trustworthiness. Not that ‘cheating’ is criminal, but it is certainly not encouraged at school, nor is it admirable or the basis for any solid long-term relationship. Moreover, for his team, it unquestionably has an impact on how they must view him and his sense of fidelity. In an ‘All Boy’s Club,’ maybe that type of behavior will be hammed up in the locker room. But, for a team including women, that has a sense of pride and from whom the leader is looking for total heart and soul commitment, this type of cheating will inevitably have a bearing. Even if it is not officially said to be important, the behavior speaks volumes.


I can only believe that this video above is not legitimate. Surely, with so few views, it’s a fake. But it certainly feels the part!

A Hole in Hollande’s Trustworthiness

I do make parallels between how Hollande managed this affair and what attitudes business leaders need to adopt in order to garner greater trust and to inspire and motivate the workers (or citizens) to follow the vision. In the army, if a soldier doesn’t trust his commander, he won’t feel good about taking the boss’ orders. I tend to believe the same is true of any leader. Sure, one might execute obediently, but the extra step, the extra energy will not be there. I would argue that the President of France has a gaping hole in his trustworthiness. It was there before the Gayet scandal erupted. Now, he has the trust of his very own team to recuperate before even thinking about the trust the population might have put in him.

Trust is intangible but relies on actions

Similarly, in business, engaged employees who live and work around their leader, for at least 8 up to 12 hours a day, need to feel that their leader is trustworthy. In such close quarters, I would also argue that employees will — at least subconsciously — also take note of his/her personal ethics. It’s not possible to separate the two, especially as it regards trustworthiness. If France has made a conscious decision to want to separate private and professional, it comes — at least in part — from its heritage of not wanting the King’s riches and decadence to be generally known by the masses. The French upper crust invoke the code “to live happily, it is better to live hidden.” This is just not a way to garner trust; especially in an era of widening transparency.

Voting for Whollande

For François Hollande, he has shown us throughout his career an inability to commit. What is true in his private life is also true in his public (political) life. Is it not obviously consistent? The natural extrapolation would be that if he treats his First Ladyfriend with such trickery and arctic coldness that he might operate the same way at times with his own team? And, for the electorate, it’s all very well “saying” you don’t care about his private life; then, why did Closer, the magazine that revealed the affair, sell out in the first day? Why has television been galavanting on about the ongoing tryst? Is it not because what is personal is the singular backbone of personality? Politicians, much like CEOs, are mediatic figures. They must accept to live in the limelight. I would argue that they must bring their whole person with them. And, it so happens in a world where digital media helps reveal and spread news, being transparent and demonstrating consistent integrity are the right way to go to build trust, a trust which in polls around the world is so lacking for politicians, business executives and marketers alike.

Ironically, now that Hollande is shifting from Socialist to Social Democrat, personally I am grateful for this latest switch; but will it last?

Daft Punk, The Myndset Digital Marketing & Brand StrategyBTW, is it not beautifully coincidental that the helmeted Daft Punk is a French band that just scooped the Grammy Award for its album? They clearly have the wind in the backs….

P.S. I participated in a “debate” on France 24 television following the press conference at which Hollande was grilled about the Closer revelations.  In case you are interested, here are the YouTube recordings (in two parts): Part 1 and Part 2.

Your thoughts?

Transparency in Media – Importance for Democracy

I received an email from a very “in” person (i.e. a good source). The mail writes:

On MAY 10th, 2010, this open letter will appear in the Canadian magazine “The Walrus” (June and July/August issues). If you don’t know it, it’s like the New Yorker of Canada! The letter is also visible on JPS Film’s Facebook page (they who have sponsored this advertisement).

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Dear Citizens of Democracy,

One of the fundamental signs of a healthy democracy is the transparency of and access to information. Among documentary filmmakers there is growing concern that this is being undermined and restricted.

Documentary filmmaking is about sharing stories that are either being ignored, suppressed or forgotten, to entice public dialogue and interest. We feel that part of our role as documentary filmmakers is to uphold these tenants of democratic dialogue. In a healthy democracy social, economic and political criticism and analysis is vital.

Unfortunately, even in democratic countries such as ours, a collusion of power entities are degrading these democratic values and inhibiting the release of films. Our profession, like democracy itself, is being obstructed.

We are writing this open letter to alert the public of the following problems:

• Intimidation, pressure and harassment of filmmakers and those they interview, especially when corporate financial interests are at stake;
• Conflicts of interest that hinder films from securing Errors and Omissions insurance (insurance companies avoid insuring films who investigate their biggest clients. Without
• E&O insurance, it is very difficult to release films in North America);
• Lawsuits that block the release of films denouncing corporate crimes;
• Consolidation of media outlets, unchecked by government;
• Broadcasters who place advertising dollars and lowest common denominator thinking before freedom of speech and information;
• Government agencies delaying and avoiding the transmission of public information or not making government officials available for questioning;

Emmanuelle Schick Garcia (Canada/France)—The Idiot Cycle
Peter Wintonick (Canada)—Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
Fredrik Gertten (Sweden)—BANANAS!*
Hubert Sauper (France)—Darwin’s Nightmare
Matthew Groff (U.S.A.)—U.N. Me
JoAnne Fishburn (Canada/UK)—All-Living-Things.org
Erik Gandini (Sweden/Italy)—Videocracy
Violeta Ayala ” Dan Fallshaw (Australia)—Stolen
Mat Whitecross (U.K.)—The Road to Guantanmo
Tracy Worcester (U.K.)—Pig Business
Neasa Ni Chianain (Ireland)—Fairytale of Kathmandu

PAID FOR BY JPS FILMS (Japanese Pop Songs is based out of Paris)

Given my recent posts on TheMyndset about the role of transparency in society and on Wikileaks, this above letter certainly follows in the same vein. What are your thoughts about this letter?