How Many People Does it Take to Make a Bad Leader?

Here are some of the numbers:

Since the failed coup in Turkey last weekend, President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has started to take revenge:

  • Some 33,000 members of the military, including 103 generals and admirals, have been detained or dismissed.
  • Some 15,000 employees of the education ministry have been suspended.
  • Some 20,000 teachers have had their licenses revoked.
  • Some 1,500 university deans have been forced to resign.

Let’s be clear here: though the headlines scream Erdogan, Erdogan, Erdogan, such numbers are not his handiwork alone. Ask yourself this: how many people does it take to depose or dispose of 70,000 people in less than seven days?

Here are some of the facts:

  • Volkswagen’s current CEO, Matthias Mueller, has been implicated in the use of emissions cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars.
  • Volkswagen’s previous CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has been implicated in the use of emissions cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars.
  • Some Volkswagen board members have been implicated in the use of emissions cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars.
  • Some Volkswagen engineers have been implicated in the use of emissions cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars.
  • Some Volkswagen upper and middle level managers have been implicated in the use of emissions cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars.

Let’s be clear here: though the headlines scream Volkswagen, Volkswagen, Volkswagen, this is not an organizational abstraction. Ask yourself this: how many people does it take to execute for so long company policy so obviously fraudulent?

No use obsessing about bad leaders when what we have is bad leadership. When what we have are leaders and followers engaging in wrongdoing by acting in tandem.

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