And they all fall down … the leadership crunch

Integrity, ethics, transparency—some of the most used and abused words in the corporate world. Every organisation tries to fit these somewhere in their vision, mission, values but these are often the first to be sacrificed at the altar of 'practicality' and 'business sense'.

There are times when I despair as I pick up the paper and read of the Ramalinga Rajus, Rajat Guptas, Reebok's Subhinder Singh and Vishnu Bhagat etc. Whether the charges are proven true or false, whether the cheaters are these or someone else in the system, the fraud and the cheating continues! While the junior levels are often punished for even a small white lie, the leaders get away with famous words, like the US senator who dismissed the conduct of the war in Iraq with "Mistakes were made and lies were told". Where are the leaders whom we can look up to? Where are the leaders who were truly held accountable? Where are our role models?

While these will hog the news for a few days, there are a million more scams waiting to be created, leaders to be caught or implicated to save some other, equally senior people. It is time to question what is creating these. Why are some people in senior positions who already have access to lavish lifestyles resorting to cheating, fraud and unethical practices? What drives the greed? How much is enough? Or even more important—Where are we heading? What is creating this madness?

The easy answer to what is creating this situation is 'greed' and 'vanity'. But even as I say that, I realise we missed a few steps along the way because the greed and vanity also have a catalyst. The source we must discover before we can hope to understand what is happening and how essential it is to reverse this trend. The people that participate in or benefit from these scams or less than honest practices are but human and every action we take as human being is to fulfil a need. They say there is need and then there is greed. And I say that greed is also an unhealthy manifestation of some need. But what could be this need?

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