Peter Singer a bioethics professor from Princeton recently lamented at the culture of dishonesty at the World Cup. While the fans and the media critique FIFA’s reluctance to employ technology to help the referee’s no comment seems to be made about the honesty of the players themselves and indeed the fans who support them. Singer suggests that German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who deliberately acted in a way which lead the referee to believe that the ball did not cross the line and therefore a goal was not won could have instead been honest, upset german fans but impressed the whole world…. a few seconds caught on camera cheating instead of a noble reputation for his lifetime.
Neuer is not alone in this competition or the games that led up to it notably Thierry Henry the french striker who admitted in a BBC interview after the match to a hand ball foul yet just shrugged and pointed to the referee. Is France happy that their star lives in a moral vacuum? Can we join the dots from here to how the french team publicly imploded with in-fighting with themselves and coach in the early part of the tournament?
And what of the fans? Singer describes the culture as excessive partisanship over ethics; it is acceptable for their team to cheat successfully but complain bitterly when the other side does the same. We can’t really just blame the players, they are participating in a larger culture where winning is more important than moral values. Noble doesn’t pay?
So how is this relevant to business or real estate in particular? Well I think it gives us pause to look at the culture of honesty in our own offices and industry. It’s hard to imagine that many of NZ sporting greats who made successes of their lives afterwards in the boardroom or other endeavours behaved like this on or field in their day. (I know you are going to remind me of exceptions)… Here is the question then, would you have a Neuer or Henry working under your license? Sure they bring public profile but can you really trust them to behave and act in the clients best interests and yours? I am not alone in the belief that life is a game and most play sport, business and the game of life roughly in the same way. One is just practice for the other. That in a nut shell is the real reason for sport, we can get fit exercising in our back yards or lounges.
At the risk of sounding really sanctimonious now I might further venture that we accept a culture of dishonesty if we know it exists and do nothing. In Wellington we have the case of an agent being investigated for alleged impropriety in connection with a senior property manager who was dismissed recently. We are extremely fortunate to live in a land where police, public sector, political and judicial corruption are virtually non-existant and not tolerated. We have faith in the transparency of the system and it works for us. I’ll say it again, we have a country and a business culture that works. If our friend is found to have acted improperly then fine, let him eat the porridge and lets kick him out of the industry. But I genuinely hope that he hasn’t if only because it would give fuel and justification to our other friend Clayton Cosgrove who gained political capital by picking on a weak target and gave us this heavy handed regime we now live under. So if this chap’s colleagues knew something was actually going on then they are accepting a moral vacuum culture which doesn’t work for the rest of us and just wait, they will probably meet the same end as the french football team.
Oh I’ll get plenty of razz for this!
July 02 2010 06:10 pm | Uncategorized