What is evil – business edition

To be evil is to be profoundly immoral. It’s not just about lapses in judgement, it’s about intent. Not caring who you hurt or that you hurt others.

In business, as in life, there are people who are profoundly immoral. They use their businesses to enrich themselves and hurt others.  These are not good businessmen. They are “evil” immoral businessmen.  They are the people who give capitalism a bad name so that we now associate capitalism with exploitation.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Most people are basically moral. Some people are super moral. Most people go along with the flow. Many people are opportunistically immoral but only a small number are profoundly immoral.

We need to be aware of how we, as humans, respond to the leadership around us. It is well known that most employees mimic the behavior of their bosses. The boss sets the cultural expectation and employees set out to meet it.

If a boss bullies, the staff bullies. If a boss steals, the staff steal. This doesn’t make the copy cats profoundly immoral, they are just adjusting themselves to the cultural expectations of the organization they find themselves in.  They themselves may be moral, but their sense of right and wrong is adjusted based on the group they are in. Some research to understand how group think works.  http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm

Before you think – couldn’t happen to me – it could and it probably has. After all, if you were brainwashed would you even know it? Most of the time, brain washing and group think is only obvious to an outside observer. It is the rare individual who doesn’t succumb to peer pressure and group think maintaining a sense of self to the point they can stand against the group and the pressure the group exerts to maintain the faulty views they have.

Bad bosses and bad morals lead to bad decisions. It benefits us all to make good decisions and to do that, we need to get rid of people who are profoundly immoral who are steering us off course.

Good leaders take care to make sure that they don’t fall into group think traps. Not just because it’s the right thing to do but because they know how easy it is to get manipulated into doing bad while thinking you are doing good.

The main thing we all can do to defend ourselves from becoming victims of group think in favor of a profoundly immoral individual is to be skeptical.  Play devil’s advocate with yourself and others.

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