As evidenced by our discussion throughout this book and continuing news headlines, it is definitely a tough time to be in business. Navigating through the uncertain waters of the current economy, many organizations are buffeted by corporate scandals and tossed about by wild fluctuations in the stock market. As soon as the wave of mismanagement and deceit seems to subside, someone comes out with a revised earnings statement that $3 billion reported as profit was actually a loss, and we begin to sink again. It's an even tougher time to be at the helm. Tyco, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and Enron have run aground; and in each case, poor leadership has cost the company and the crew their livelihoods. CEOs pursued profits at the expense of everything else and doomed the organization.
In this unstable climate, it is not surprising that individuals have chosen an unethical path. Long-term investors are looking for a minimum 10 percent annual growth rate even as the market contracts, and more recent investors keep thinking that the enormous profits of the dot.com glory days are the norm. The profit motive is so strong it seems to overwhelm all other concerns. From the CEO to the accounting department, down to the district manager and department head, the focus shifts from what the business produces to the wealth it can create.