Executive Overreach

In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton said that Bill didn’t need to resign because of the extramarital high jinx he had with Monica Lewinsky. That Monica was an adult at the time and made her own decision.

Whether you’re “I’m with Her” or “Lock Her Up” on the Hillary scale, she’s simply wrong here. And it has nothing to do with Monica’s age.

No one should be personally involved with someone who works for them. Even several levels down in the organization. Or rather: especially several levels down in the organization. Period.

This is not complex, the power dynamic, even among consenting adults, is too strong. It’s simply impossible to separate the many possible underlying motives, the implicit pressures, and the resultant head games. On all sides of the relationship.

I say this as someone who just this week celebrated 35 years of marriage to a wonderful woman I met at the office. She worked in a different department, the only common manager we had was two levels above me. Yet we still snuck around like teenagers in love so as not to create scandal at the office.

I’m not suggesting some sort of Billy Graham rule where men and women are never alone at the office. Or that we ignore the natural tendencies for people who work together to occasionally find love.

What I am saying is that, regardless of ages, regardless of intent, and regardless of the seeming completely conscious decision of both parties, relationships among people where one works for the other are wrong. Full stop.

I don’t know if Bill Clinton should have resigned. But what happened with Monica was wrong. Those rules in the HR Policy Manual of virtually every organization about that kind of behavior are spot on.