No leader can ever afford to gossip.
Just don't do it. As many a grandmother would say, "if they'll gossip TO you, they'll gossip ABOUT you." Just don't.
We had a great rule at GE while I worked there: honor the absent. Don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't say if they were standing right in front of you.
That about covers any chance of gossip - simply honor the absent.
It's shows much better character, and high performance leaders need highly developed character.
-- Doug Smith