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Why do good people do bad things?

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

Breaking Bad –  a disillusioned chemistry teacher whose medical insurance doesn’t cover his cancer treatment turns to what he knows producing high quality illegal drugs. The drugs business is very profitable, very dangerous and very difficult to get out of.

Ozark – an accountant whose business partner put him in an impossible position and the more he tries to dig his way out the deeper he goes into the word of organised crime.

Top Boy- limited options, bad choices and a born leader with business acumen expressed in the only way open to him.

In each case a basically moral person with good business skills finds their values gradually  corrupted.

The message seems to be that whilst there certainly are bad people the majority of leaders are neither incompetent nor bad but that being the leader and holding on to power involves a gradual compromising of the individuals values. Doing what has to be done. In the majority  of organisation this does not involve sanctioning the execution of an employee who has been stealing from their boss or plotting against them.
But it can mean scapegoating a long-standing colleague when something big goes wrong, deciding who stays and who goes following a merger, firing and rehiring to cut employee costs, going back on a commitment not to impose changes in terms and conditions of employment, promising to be open and transparent in negotiations and then withholding information and abusing trust.
Very few of us senior managers resign on a matter of principle. And whilst organisations claim to want transparency and integrity at the top they don’t tend to appoint those they considered to be self righteous. So we make our objections known behind closed doors. We accept that compromise and expediency goes with the territory.  And like the fictional characters above we find ways to justify it to ourselves.

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