“I don’t want to have my head in a basket!” King Edward I “Longshanks,” upon receiving the Governor of York’s head in a basket compliments of William Wallace
Nor—we may assume—would he want to have to escape in a crate. Specifically, a large black case typically used for concert equipment with air holes punched in the bottom. Such was the predicament of former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn who, with the help of an ex Green Beret, recently fled Japan to avoid trial for financial wrongdoing. Among other charges, Ghosn is said to have diverted $14.7 million dollars to a friend who helped him with a personal problem, and another $5 million for himself. Ghosn denies all wrongdoing, and says the charges are a plot concocted by disgruntled Nissan executives.
Without prejudging the merit of the accusations against Ghosn, it does seem that dishonesty is more prevalent now than ever before. The Wall Street Journal reports with regularity on corporate malfeasance. People who already make a ridiculous amount of money misappropriate corporate funds for personal expenses, use corporate jets for personal travel, inflate expense reports, borrow corporate funds without intent to repay, make charitable gifts of corporate money in their name, demand and receive outrageous severance packages, or simply steal corporate funds. Often with an “I am the company” mentality and justification.
Likewise, people go to work every day with the sole purpose of hacking into our accounts and stealing our identity and our money, or hacking into computers and demanding ransom. Spam callers (both live and robo) are so intrusive that many of us have eliminated land lines to try and escape, only to now be assaulted on our cell phones. “You’ve won a $3,000 vacation! All I need is your credit card for a $70 booking fee.” I recently received a letter from a lawyer representing the estate of someone with the last name Slater. The deceased left ten million dollars with no heirs, and rather than have the money escheat to the state the lawyer will split it with me if only I will . . .
There is opportunity here.
In a world increasingly devoid of integrity you can be different, and noticeably so. In any company, some people are trusted more than others. Earn the trust — and respect — of your manager and colleagues by acting with integrity in all matters and at all times. Have principles and adhere to them. Be honest in all matters, large and small. Do what you say you will do. And spend company money as you would your own.
In short, differentiate yourself through uncompromising character.