COMMENTARY 866.4: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

by Michael Josephson on February 12, 2014

in Commentaries, Workplace, Management

Post image for COMMENTARY 866.4: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

During a seminar on ethics in the workplace, participants spoke about a wide array of unethical conduct they’d recently witnessed. They talked about high-level employees who lied on internal reports or blatantly took credit for the work of others and the intimidation or abuse of subordinates. These were clear-cut violations of organizational policy. Yet, in most cases the perpetrator escaped any serious sanction.

Executives, who have the responsibility to uphold organizational standards, seem to find an endless array of excuses to look the other way. And so the culture of many private and public institutions reflects a don’t-rock-the-boat, avoid-confrontation-at-any-cost philosophy that undermines institutional integrity and morale.

When managers systematically allow employees to get away with forbidden behavior, they make a mockery of organizational policies and ethical rhetoric. What’s worse, they cultivate seeds of inefficiency and corruption and demoralize employees who would willingly live up to higher standards of personal conduct. Every time we let a bad guy win, we weaken the resolve of dozens of ordinary folks who need to know that playing by the rules is not just for suckers.

How many organizations are mired in the quicksand of hypocrisy because they are led by executives who are too timid or ambitious to demand honorable behavior? Good organizations need good people, men and women of principle who can resist the seductions of short-term political expediency and overcome fears of litigation or unpopularity.

 This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Wood February 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Yes, I know this occurs often, perhaps more often thatn we would like to admit. As a veteran teacher I have seen both sides. I have had the joy of working with leaders and coworkers who share in decision making, make collaboration fun, and hold each other accountable. These are good times. Then again, I have also unfortunately had negative experiences. Times when political animals must imagine they are bigger and better in some way than their “underlings”. These poor leaders abuse, blame and manipulate in all kinds of ways. They are hypocrits, having one standard they espouse for others and a very different standard (if you can call it that) for themselves. It’s simply a “me, myself and I” kind of thing. Character that is narcisistic and selfish. Definitely not good for the whole. and these leaders will probably not succeed over the long term. Their organizations will probably not be sound. Good leadership does count. Character counts!


Salim Kanji February 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm

We have one of the best bosses around in Dr. Polonsky as the President of the Durham University in Ontario. He is often seen at the main entrance early mornings greeting his faculty and associates and the students. There are plenty of hugs and smiles during this early morning welcomes.
PLUS Dr Polonsky always gives credit where it is due.
God Bless Dr Polonsky and his loved ones


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: