Unless, of course, you're part of the executive team. They walk the halls without masks and eat lunch together in a conference room.
One of my readers described this situation to me. Can you imagine what this is doing to employee morale? My reader was not happy.
Practice what you preach.
Whether or not you think masks help prevent Covid-19 transmission is irrelevant in this situation. If your company policy requires it or your state law requires it, then the CEO and senior management team should never, ever--not even for 30 seconds--violate that rule.
You cannot expect your employees to respect and follow you in business matters when you do not follow the same rules that you expect them to follow. This applies to all sorts of rules, like vacation time, travel reimbursement, and proper office behavior. In the case of Covid-19, it applies to masks and other behavior designed to keep employees and clients safe.
As soon as you take off your mask, you're telling your employees that you do not care about their health and safety, and you do not think you have to follow the rules. Why on earth would your employees listen to you?
True leadership serves.
You can be the boss without being a leader. But, if you want to be a leader, you serve your employees. By following the guidelines from the CDC or your state health department, and your company policies, you're demonstrating that you care about your employees.
If your state doesn't require masks in offices, and you don't wish to wear one, then make the company policy apply to everyone. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you can see that you're not serving your employees--you're serving yourself.
Protect your company.
You're not going to get sued because your company operated too safely. As long as you're compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide reasonable accommodations for employees whose doctors certify that they cannot wear masks, you're on solid ground when you require masks for your employees.
While your primary focus should be on the health and safety of your employees and customers, you also need to think about the legal ramifications of not following guidelines and laws issued by your state. Do you want to stand up in court and say, "Well, the senior team didn't need to wear masks because...."
And if lawsuits aren't enough, my reader was kind enough to ask me to keep the company confidential. A disgruntled employee may have taken a picture and tweeted it. That's not something you want either. Protect your company by following health department guidelines and company rules.
Being a manager can bring some perks, but being above the rules shouldn't be one of those perks.