Why powerful people break laws

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As the wind blows, exposing the misdemeanor of former powerful people in  past governments, and the stupidity of some of them, it becomes necessary to ask why the rich and powerful—and many of r top-level leaders—so often mess up, break laws, and engage in outrageous behavior.

Primitive acquisition is one of such horrible things done by the rich and powerful in Africa. Two basic factors cause this: The one is sudden wealth syndrome, where people from poor backgrounds suddenly find themselves at a fountain of money. It is a case of a famished man who impulsively decides to stuff his mouth with both hands upon being supplied with food. And when the supply in quantity and variety is much, eats until he is unable to breathe well.

The other reason is the expectations of the extended family and indeed, people from his town and local government area or even his state, who think it is their turn to have their share of the national cake. To these highly expectant people, their man does no wrong. He is infallible.

But generally, abuse of power is traced to the dynamics of power. Experts have observed that the rich and powerful are admired and catered to by others. Many of the most powerful can get anything they want with the snap of their fingers.

Although many leaders start out using their power to get things done and to benefit others, over time they may begin to believe that whatever they do is right (and they delude themselves into thinking that benefiting others is their primary concern).

A philosopher says that over time, powerful people may begin to believe that they are “above the law” – that the rules that apply to others do not apply to them. They call it “exception-making.”

This situation is encouraged when the followers of the leaders collude with them, unable to challenge: they look the other way when the leader misbehaves, and they may even believe that the misbehavior is okay because of the leader’s station and power.

According to an expert, for most people that question is too painful to confront. The fear of losing income, reputation or self-esteem edges us into compromises that damage our hearts and souls. We are willing to bear these burdens and accept these scars because the alternatives frighten us too much. How can I sacrifice my family’s wellbeing or feed my children?

I know a case a CEO who was dating his secretary, a lady married to a university teacher. On many occasions, the office assistant saw them in compromising positions in the office, but pretended as if he saw nothing, and heard nothing.

Toxic leaders

All these factors combine to produce toxic leaders. A toxic leader is a person who has responsibility over a group of people or an organization, and who abuses the leader–follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off condition than when s/he first found them.

The phrase was coined by Marcia Whicker in 1996 and is linked with a number of dysfunctional leadership styles.

Other names include the little Hitler, manager from hell, The Toxic Boss and boss from hell. Their leadership style is both self-destructive and ultimately corporately harmful as they subvert and destroy organizational structures.

Although toxic leaders share horrible many horrible characteristics, one of the most notable is bullying.

Bullying and Commanding

Bullying involves things like unfair treatment, public humiliation and other forms of threatening behavior. While some bullying is straightforward, other behaviors can be subtler yet still create toxicity. These include undermining one’s position or responsibility, falsely taking credit, spreading rumors and half-truths, and social ostracism.

Some research identifies bullying as an epidemic, especially in the workplace.

Researchers say, whenever a leader commands, the power dynamic shifts and can become problematic. There is a thin line between commanding and bullying. Bullying can involve shouting, swearing, name-calling, malicious sarcasm, threats to safety, or actions that are threatening, intimidating, humiliating, hostile, offensive or cruel. To cement their position, bullies evaluate performance unfairly, deny advancement, steal credit, attack reputations, give arbitrary instruction, and even assign unsafe work. They can interfere, sabotage, undermine, and encourage failure.

Worse of all, toxic leaders don’t seem to care a hoot about how others react to their behavior. It is common of them to boast: “Nothing will happen!”

But sadly, something does happen in the end!


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