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Granting Power to Weak-Character Professionals and Allowing Them to Keep It
Character is not being sufficiently vetted and closely monitored
“Some among us are without conscience. That’s a fact hard to accept. Still, it’s a fact. What’s more sobering is to realize just how seriously impaired the consciences of some who actually have a conscience can be. No one, however, is more dangerous than the person with virtually no conscience.”
“Folks who lack a sound internal self-regulating mechanism are capable of the most unconscionable behavior, even when experiencing little duress. That’s why we should never, ever afford such folks the reins of power.”
George K. Simon, Ph.D.
Author: 1) In Sheep’s Clothing 2) Character Disturbance
What do you think of when you read what Simon communicated?
For many people, a politician may come to mind as the biggest example of what he’s talking about yet it’s people far closer to home, so to speak, that this essay is about — those in power in business and workplaces.
These people are bad for your reputation within and outside the organization. They are an ongoing risk and significant liability, regardless of what you may respect and like about them.
It is shocking, disturbing really, how often authority and power are granted to people who can’t successfully manage negativity, impulses and behavior, as in manage themselves. This results in people’s worst self to run roughshod over people, knowing that it is highly unlikely that they will face consequences or punishment.
In most cases, this usually reveals that the decision makers that granted such offenders authority and power didn’t 1) do a deep-enough, thorough dive into the conscience-deficient person’s background or 2) didn’t responsibly and effectively monitor them on the job or 3) didn’t help the conscience-deficient leader (regardless of what level of the organization that they are ) promptly, fully correct their thinking and misbehavior — or terminate them if the offense was glaring and a warning sign.
In short, this problematic mix of poor hiring, sloppy governance and upper-level management misjudgment and failed decision making shows disrespect for the people who must be exposed to and engage with character-disturbed people.
This is far more common experience in workplaces and business for employees, prospects, customers and clients than is imagined.
Another sobering reality is that such people are being paid (sometimes, very well) for conduct that is unprofessional, unethical and immoral.
“Professor Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University in Canada, observed what was happening in the brains of people in positions of power and those in subordinate positions. It turned out that in the “powerful” group, the functioning of mirror neurons, which are responsible for empathy, was impaired. Professor Obhi provided scientific evidence that the brain chemistry of powerful individuals can hinder their efforts to show empathy and compassion towards others,” according to the website, Welcome to the Jungle.
This is why people who will be or have been granted authority and power need to be watched more closely, which isn’t the norm.
“Those who abuse their power may surround themselves with other individuals of power or people prone to agreeing with them, lowering the chance for helpful feedback and behavior callouts,” writes University of Adelaide Business School Professor Petrina Coventry.
Elevating awareness of the problem is step one to making this reality less likely to happen or be ongoing.
More responsible, thorough hiring research and saying “no” to “skills” and “need” when character flaws are discovered is another responsible step (and risk management).
Conducting ongoing governance with your people, especially leadership, is a critically-important task. Quickly responding to thinking and behavior that is “below the line” and ethically or morally wrong is another necessary step.
Termination, even if painful to do for whatever reason and whatever legal risk, must be considered and carried out if the behavior is egregious, even if the perpetrator explains it away or says they will not replicate it.
This advisory will be rejected by most decision makers. Those who see the wisdom and heed it will protect or begin to restore the healthy strength of their reputation.
They will also show a greater strength of leadership by preventing, mitigating and ending the ill behavior that has been taking place because of the authority and power misplaced in someone who could not handle the responsibility that goes with it because of a weak conscience and weak character.
Michael Toebe writes “Reputation Notes” and is the founder and specialist at Reputation Quality, a practice that serves and assists successful people and organizations in further building reputation as an asset and responsibly, ethically protecting, restoring or reconstructing it.
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