So when the people at the top have sold us out, the people who take orders from them, people who know them, begin to sell us out also. They see their superiors, their bosses and betters, becoming rich while violating laws and ethical standards, and they think: “Hey. That’s just wrong!” Then they think. “Wait a minute, if they can do it, I can do it!” And many members of the organization begin looking around for ways to improve their incomes, legal or otherwise.
Individuals who are “getting away with something” go through a series of behavior changes, and that’s how others begin to perceive that they have become corrupt. Actual evidence is unnecessary, gathering evidence is a secondary act. The first stage in identifying corruption is pure, raw suspicion, the sudden realization that a leader is hinky. Sometimes we don’t know what “makes us think so,” but hinky is as hinky does. We can perceive the basis of our suspicions by analyzing behavior.
An ideal leader, a “good” leader, is someone who works as a member of teams, who cooperates and exchanges information, he sets positive objectives, he supports others in the achievement of their goals and he champions talented newcomers, all toward the improvement of the organization and the accomplishment of positive, life-affirming acts. Everything he does contributes to the overall success of the organization and to the respect with which the organization is held.
Everyone who becomes a leader wants to be seen as the ideal leader and so most leaders behave roughly within this description until they become corrupt. Once they are “getting away with something,” they keep secrets, they becomes tense, irritable, and begin mandating, threatening, ordering others to accomplish tasks. Most noticeably, they begin rejecting the advice offered by highly moral friends and contacts, although they never disagree with the morality behind the recommended act.
They also become less efficient, spending a lot of money on projects, personnel and contract, which don’t seem to do anything to achieve organization goals, or achieve those goals only at an unusually high price.
The corrupt leader also becomes conservative, he doesn’t want to do anything that would attract too much attention. Indeed he accepts advice from fewer and fewer people, he shares only information which has already become public. In explanation of his sudden urge for secrecy, he may say: “If you give them information they’ll only use it against you.”
Ordering and mandating behaviors, my-way-or-the-highway attitudes, implied or direct verbal threats of termination or loss of status, and the outright firings of those who have tried to do their jobs correctly, all are indicators of a defensive state of mind, a mind which feels it is surrounded by enemies. On the one hand, the leader appears confident; at least his cavalier treatment of others and their ideas makes him seem confident. But these behaviors are expressive of a severe lack of confidence, largely arising out of guilt. Those who understand guilt and pay attention to behavior are always the first to recognize the leader is “getting away with something.”
For a person with diminished moral and ethical standards, that’s all it takes. “If he can get away with it, I can get away with it,” they say.