If we do an effective job of leading our teams while we’re at work, does it matter what we do in our own time?

So long as our troops are happy, productive, collaborative, striving and delivering stellar results, can’t we take off our leader caps and don our anonymous attire at the end of each working day?

Is it really possible to be a ‘part-time leader’? 

I have a friend who is a PR consultant. She often says that everything we say (and more importantly, do) impacts our influence.

And of course, I couldn’t agree more.

But, my question is, does this (and should it) extend to our own personal time? Can’t we just clock-off at the end of the day and forget about our leadership duties?

My answer is yes…and no.

Take some of the high profile cases of sports professionals who have been in the media limelight lately for their off field antics.  And you only need mention the word “Monica”, to start to form the picture of how what you do in your personal time, for better or worse, has an impact on how you’re viewed when you’re back ‘in the office’.

Like professional sportspeople and politicians, all leaders are cast as role models. Like athletes, you worked hard to get where you are today.

But with status comes responsibility. Your peers, teams, rising stars and the community at large look up to you (yes you!). And depending on how you look at it, this is both a privilege and a curse.

Let’s get this straight.  I am not, for a moment, getting all judgmental on y’all.  Heck, if you wanna swim naked with the cheerleaders of the New York Jets, or let loose a little at your friend’s party and dance on the tables wearing nothing but a feather boa, go knock yourself out.

AND,

at the same time, don’t play the victim when this “gets out” – if you get passed up for that CEO role you so wanted, because there’s a question over your “decision making” and “ethics”.

I am not advocating you can’t relax, let your hair down, and stuff up – and I mean stuff up lots.  Some of the best leaders I know have made heaps of them, in their professional and personal lives.  This is part of being human. Mistakes are how we learn.

More often, it’s how we handle our mistakes (both on the field and off) that matter.

One poll in America confirmed that voters would have been willing to forgive Clinton his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but not the fact that they had been lied to about it afterwards.

What I am saying is this: The likelihood is, whether you realise it or not, you have worked hard to forge a credible reputation. This can be tarnished in an instant if the wrong messages are cast. The advent of social media makes what you say and do in your own time even more pertinent – there’s just no hiding from it.

Being aware of our 24-7 role is just as important for high school prefects as it is CEOs.

The higher up the ladder we climb, the more visible we become. Simply because we stop climbing for the day, it doesn’t mean people can’t see us.

It doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. It just means we might need to be comfortable with the possibility it will be spread across tomorrow’s front pages. And whatever that little scenario brings.

Sidebar: If you’re reading this and thinking about your boss, putting them on a pedestal is a cautionary tale, but that’s a blog for another day….