“Wrongdoing for Gain” as Formula for Success – Do We Really Want to Accept This?

illegal or dishonest behavior
evil or improper behavior

Quoting me from yesterday, on the lack of introspection within some (maybe way too many) leaders, There Seems To Be A Shortage Of Introspection Within Today’s Leaders:
Sometimes the focus on results can cause some sort of willful blindness toward other important factors. Like treating workers like human beings. Like being honest with consumers. Like staying within both the letter and the spirit of the law.


So, let’s think through this for a bit. I’ll start with an example from the past.

1994, Tobacco Executives swear to tell the truth before members of Congress; claiming that tobacco was not addicting
1994, Tobacco Executives swear to tell the truth before members of Congress; claiming that smoking is not addictive

The tobacco companies increased nicotine levels in cigarettes, on purpose. They knew that this increased levels of addiction to cigarettes. Nicotine is addicting, and they knew it. But they stated, publicly, and in many, many funded studies that were “manipulated” (that’s a fancy way of saying these studies die not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), that nicotine was not addicting.

So, here are the options.

#1 – they were outright liars
#2 – they were truly intentionally, willfully blind to research
#3 – they were really not very smart

You really do have to go with #1, don’t you? But here is what we know – ultimately, it was firmly established that they were not right/truthful.

Now, let’s move forward. Volkswagen put software in their cars to “beat” the emissions tests. The software allowed the cars to significantly surpass the emission levels required and claimed, but sensed when a test was being conducted; and for the test, and only for the test, reduced emissions.

Here are the options:

#1 – some software engineers were just having a little fun, and no one knew it but this small group of software engineers.
#2 – leadership knew about it, endorsed it, continued it, maybe ordered it – hoping they would never get caught.

We could keep this listing of possibilities going. We know that Exxon basically did what the tobacco companies did in studies regarding global warming issues. They knew what they were reporting (and funding) was not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And, does anyone really believe, for example, that Tom Brady, who is meticulous and attentive, did not know and approve of some folks intentionally deflating footballs below the rule level?

And, what about all of the intentional truth-avoiding and outright lying during the sub-prime mortgage crisis?

And on, and on…

I think I’m saying this. In incident after incident, circumstance after circumstance, leaders know about wrongdoing, and I guess they simply hope that they will never get caught. Or, maybe they know that if they do get caught it will not matter all that much – their profits, their wins, their bottom lines will still be higher with fines and penalties.

In other words, some wrongdoing pays – and it pays greatly.

So, maybe we are all to blame. We do not demand enough change in behavior. We accept the “wrongdoing for gain” formula.

So, shame on the leaders.

And maybe, shame on us all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s