Chris Huhne, MP for Eastleigh, stated, nay categorically insisted that it was his wife, not himself, who had been driving his car at speed. As denials go, this was a strong one. To prove it he’d hired the man that only the most powerful and wealthiest in the land turn to (barrister John Kelsey-Fry who also successfully defended Harry Rednapp).
The Truth Will Out
When his wife found out about his affair in 2011 she was out for revenge.
She passed the truth of what really happened to the press. After unsuccessful attempts to dismiss the resulting criminal case from court, Chris Huhne finally admitted to the truth. He entered a guilty plea (Feb 4th 2013), resigned from the cabinet, stood down as an MP and has now been incarcerated for eight months (along with his wife).
His life will never be the same. Once he has served his sentence he will find a very different world. His reputation in the gutter. No politician will touch him. His relationship with his son is in tatters (his son, much to his credit, had demanded his father own up and ‘take responsibility” in texts between the two).
There were wider repercussions at stake too. Aside from the Lib Dems losing a “big hitter” with the negative impact on the party as a whole there followed a very uncertain bi-election (which they did win), with significant increased pressure on the coalition. The political fallout could have been immense. This is just what the government and the country as a whole need, right? All because one man lied about who was driving a car.
What Can We Learn from Chris Huhne?
So what lessons can we learn from this sad and sorry tale? That those in positions of great power and/or authority will utilise any means necessary to ensure they are not dethroned?
We can only imagine what went through Chris Huhne’ mind when he got the speeding ticket. Did his life flash before his eyes? The newspaper headlines, the guffawing of the opposition, his personal reputation being shredded, losing his role in government…?
Victor Frankl, a survivor of the German concentration camps talks about the tiny sliver of time and space between an event and corresponding action (1). The decision that is made in that moment is crucial to how one lives or dies. In Victor’s case he found real meaning, peace and a sense of control despite enduring the most inhuman conditions by simply choosing to think and therefore act differently.
The mark of great leadership is acting in line with sound values and, at all times. In the heat of the moment being able to put aside personal pride and ego, and act in the best interests of those we serve. No it’s not easy (see my article on Barclay’s leadership). But those leaders that can make the right decision will gain their follower’s respect and admiration, leading to transformational leadership. Your reputation won’t be later tarnished when something you’ve categorically stated to be false turns out to be true after all. If you would like to explore your own values, and how you react under pressure, get in touch today.
(1) Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust, Rider; New edition edition (6 May 2004)
(C) Welcome Insight 2013. Author: Mark Bateman, February 2013. Image by HikingArtist
Welcome Insight works with leaders. We understand the pressures and seek to facilitate your personal journey to greater effectiveness and performance. This is mirrored at the organisational level. If you are facing challenges as a senior executive and seek support and confidentiality, or feel you may benefit from understanding how we work to develop leaders, get in touch today. We offer confidential, challenging and supportive Executive Coaching.