Skip to content

Death of the Golden Rule

Why are bankers despised?

The gist of the “Golden Rule” is simply treating others as you wish to be treated; unless you’re a banker. Then the rule is: “He who has the gold rules.” Perhaps that is why bankers are despised. Their self-effacing rule defies human dignity and respect.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a man’s or woman’s word and handshake were all that was needed for agreement in order to proceed, and their respective attorneys may or may not have hammered out a written contract. Each person knew the deal had been cemented and the details were merely a formality to be completed. Neither feared nor considered the other wouldn’t perform according to their handshake agreement. Personal integrity and credibility were traits individuals rarely violated.

A shift from simple contracts

Then in the late 1970s early 1980s, a subtle shift emerged. Timing coincided with bestselling works “Looking out for Number one; where it was declared winning equated to happiness and there was no need to adhere to anyone’s concept of right or wrong other than your own, and “Winning through Intimidation”, where people, with a few exceptions, of course, were out to get you. While the author of those two works, Mr. Ringer still denies his philosophy is narcissistic or hedonistic the consequences of his type of philosophical approach whether personal or professional, has become both narcissistic and hedonistic. All one has to do is look at the near collapse of the United States banking industry in 2008, after the failure of Lehman Brothers, in which arrogant, narcissistic management practices and hedonic consumption overruled ethics and morality. Therefore, I submit, this type of philosophical approach to leadership and personal satisfaction failed miserably for civilized society, within a few, short decades.

A definition of leadership

Yet, I suppose the results of the above philosophical approach depend upon how one chooses to define success or leadership. Kouzes & Posner, in their book “Credibility,” define leadership as a “reciprocal agreement between those who choose to lead, and those who decide to follow.” Maxwell defines leadership as “Influence.” Much has been written on defining leadership, but few have approached leadership from a position involving ethics or morality. Understandably so, because ethics and morality differ between societies and individuals, yet every society or organization has standards and norms under which it operates. Organizations have mission statements with policies and procedures. Societies have laws and norms. In each realm, the standards are subject to change or interpretation. Over the years, the most consistent standard has always been the golden rule. When an organization or society departs from this norm, chaos always ensues.

Society has become focused on short-term satisfaction

In the United States today we find ourselves struggling to restore principled leadership and civility in virtually all aspects of modern life. Our politics are sharply divided along ideological lines, excluding those whose views differ from ours. Universities, while preaching tolerance and freedom of speech, routinely censor opposing views from being expressed on campuses. Our industry leaders have embraced hedonic management principals with little regard for the overall health of their employees and organization decades down the road, because their salaries and bonuses are based upon current profitability, with the life span of most CEOs spanning approximately five years. As a society, we have become focused on short-term satisfaction, while ignoring long-term consequences. According to Carter, exclusion has become the American norm: “When we are not labeling our opponents as extremists so that we need not show them the respect of discussing our differences, we are explaining patiently that their views do not fit an ideal model of liberal democratic decision making. In the end, the principle is the same: we conclude that those who hold wrong views are entitled to no respect.”

Conforming to a pattern

When our opponents are unworthy of respect, it becomes second nature to take attribute to them the psychological theory of projection, thus vilifying them by claiming that behavior which we inherently deny possessing, while seeing it in them. Thus providing ourselves with the excuse to ignore the fundamental decency expressed in the golden rule. With the corresponding problem being, when one aligns their behavior and conforms to a disturbing pattern of society, one becomes disturbed in their individual actions.


Published inBlog

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *