Recent news headlines have told the story of many corporate leaders who have taken, taken, taken. And why not? After all, aren't they entitled? So what's the big deal if you, as a department officer, play a round of golf, and then have a few drinks followed by dinner with a generous vendor? What's the big deal if you use your department vehicle for this event; after all you're conducting department business? It's that attitude that produces huge, extremely sharp rocks. No, you weren't drunk, but Mrs. Johnson, a district resident, sat at the table next to you. She saw you take your clubs out of the department vehicle during the middle of a work day. She saw you with that drink. She saw you drive away in that SUV with it's light bar and Maltese Cross. By the time the story makes it around town, you're buried under a pile of rocks, and you carved every one of them.
As a department leader you cannot expect the same right to privacy as the tailboard firefighter. If fact, you should expect less. Fair or not, it is reality. There is nothing like dirty laundry to sell newspapers and television space. And as a "golfing-drunk" fire chief, you are now prime media fodder and a ready target. Whenever your behavior is outside of the parameters set for your employees, you are playing in a rock quarry, standing in a position to be hit with big, sharp rocks.
Remember, as a leader you are one of the most expendable people in the organization. The only thing you absolutely must do is sign pay sheets at the end of the week, and chances are your superiors can train another monkey to do that job. Do not allow yourself to feel as if you are entitled to anything special. As a public official, you are a prime target for public scrutiny. Don't give the observers looking into your glass house any reasons to throw stones. The relationships you build through the consistent character traits of integrity, honesty, consistency, and humility will insure that when a rock is thrown, it will merely bounce off.