16/07/2011 09:52 BST | Updated 14/09/2011 06:12 BST

When is it Time to Go?

Most people thought that Rebekah Brooks would have gone a lot earlier than she did. But knowing when to leave is not easy.

Most people thought that Rebekah Brooks would have gone a lot earlier than she did. But knowing when to leave is not easy.

When you leave, doors close behind you. Depending on how you walk out, other doors may not open. You stand to lose standing, money, access, influence and all the perks that go with your position.

But staying is equally problematic. If you are in the eye of the storm - or even contributing to the vortex - then your presence may not be welcomed.

Mrs Brooks is not the only person to have found herself on the horns of this dilemma. Successive ministers have faced similar quandaries.

There are a number of questions that have to be considered before you walk, or don't.

Do you think you can survive?

You may be bruised and battered but if you think you can tough it out then it might be worth doing so. But don't become a lame duck leader. It's not worth staying if all your firepower is spent.

What's the cost of staying?

Yes, you'll be there but if the company's reputation is wrecked then it may be too high a price to pay. Look at the shares. If they are falling, will they recover? The key here is to provide certainty. Markets hate to wobble.

Has anyone important called for you to go?

Doing the right thing before you're asked is one thing. Doing it after it's been asked for is something else. And doing it after you've said you'll stay but others have said "go" is bad for the individual and the company. You and the company both look weak.

Can the business manage without you?

Chances are, yes. Most of us are eminently dispensable. There are exceptions: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are up there. But for the most part we're only missed until our parking space becomes free. Then it's a race for the spot.

And, of course, there are personal questions - do you want to stay, will the firestorm get in the way of doing the job and so on - as well as questions about whether you did anything wrong. But that's a matter for others.

Sometimes it's about timing. People may call for you to go today but life moves on. If you slip out of the spotlight, then those who need attention to function (and do what they do) will start to focus on something or someone else. The noose won't hover above you forever. The trouble is that when folks go to the trouble of erecting the gallows, they get hell-bent on hanging someone.

But you can escape by holding on and keeping your head down.

Partly, the question of staying or going depends upon your stock.

If you have tonnes of credibility in the bank, a faultless reputation and you're held in high esteem by everyone who matters, then you can probably get away with the Temporary Lapse Of judgment Gambit.

Everyone, as they say, deserves a second chance.

If you've spent that particular pile then you can always advance other arguments to stave off the inevitable. The so-called Potomac Two Step - putting a distance between the cause of the chaos and the individual - can buy you more time.

There are other ploys that will buy space: independent reviews, apologies and attacking back.

But sometimes it's best not to mess with the inevitable. Live to fight another day. Recognise your weaknesses and mistakes. Make your excuses, hand in your car keys and leave.

There's always tomorrow.