I recently attended a training course about M&A strategies. It was a good course and a good bunch of interesting people came together. In one of the coffee breaks the conversation drifted towards what is required to be financially successful as an entrepreneur.
One of the participants was a successful international turnaround consultant, trainer and speaker. At some point he openly shared his view on the question and I was truly shocked.
In essence, he was not only of the opinion that you cannot be economically successful without bribing people but he also shared that this is what he advises his clients to do.
Now, I am not naive and I am fully aware that corruption is present in business and even more so in international business. However, I refuse to accept that you have to be corrupt to be successful and I even more refuse to accept this statement as a rule of business.
Our societies have come far to fight corruption and bribery even though a lot remains to be done. What really shocked me was the statement coming from the mouth of someone who acts as a multiplier and who has the power and authority to influence other entrepreneurs’ thinking and behaviour.
I find it utterly irresponsible to think and act in such a way. I guess it only reflects on a larger trend that has been moving the world morally backward for decades now. The self-centered politicians, religious, press and business leaders that are manipulating the masses in pursuit of pure self interest and against any better judgement are only the top of an iceberg.
No, it is not ok to lie, it is not ok to deceive and it is certainly not ok to bribe people to obtain inproper advantages. It is also not ok to polarise people and to play unethically with their emotions, fears and desires.
We all have a responsibility to pass our world on to the next generation and to pass it on in a state that is still liveable. We have a responsiblity to keep or move the world towards peace, to keep the environment intact and to achieve some form of social justice. We can argue about what exactly that means and how to get there but we can and should not argue about whether or now it is necessary at all unless you are utterly ruthless and irresponsible.
In the age of alternative facts, our societies need to find a new way of weeding out such thinking and behaviour. This is not only about stricter laws and control mechanisms but about about how to counteract the deterioration of values and ethics that seems to be spreading more and more every day.
Unfortunately, I do not have a ready made answer to the challenge but I am acutely aware that we are heading for real trouble unless we find ways to turn the trend around.
So, if you have ideas and answers on how we can recover lost values and ethics and move on to the next stage, please do share them with me and maybe that can be the beginning of a tidal shift.