Leadership principle: Self gain at any price
Writer David Brooks notes that success in the 21st century seems to be based on the notion that success should accrue only to the most able without imparting to them a sense of moral responsibility. In other words, meritorious performance is the only criteria for measuring success which is usually measured in strict monetary terms.
Brooks also points out that this concept of success is seen through a narrowly focused lens of meritocracy that has discarded notions of morality and stewardship that governed America's elites during the 19th and 20th centuries. In those eras there was an underlying assumption among financial and governmental leaders that they had a responsibility to preserve their institution's good health for the benefit of future generations.
By discarding the pursuit of virtue and a sense of moral responsibility, financial and governmental leaders have fallen into the habit of focusing on short sighted gain at the expense of wisdom and good judgment.
The lack of moral underpinnings today may explain why there is an ethical crisis in the nation's financial world that has resulted not only in the financial wreck of 2008 that included the collapse of Bear Stearns, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Lehmann Bros., Merrill Lynch, but more recently in corruption at LIBOR, MF Global, Pereguine, JP Morgan.
A lack of national vision also keeps our Congress from cooperating in any meaningful way to address the country's legislative problems. Leaders of our financial and governmental institutions appear to seek whatever way possible to avoid action and absolve themselves of responsibility. Their primary guiding principle of leadership appears to be self-gain at any price.
A sense of moral responsibility must rekindle our nation's leadership.