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Week 1 Question 1 and 2


  What are ethics? Are ethics determined by a group of people or by an individual? Support your view. Expecting a substantive post with references to support it



Most organizations, many clubs, and even the federal government of the United States have codes of ethics that describe the acceptable actions of their employees and members. There are also laws in place that provide boundaries for individual behavior. Is it, then, necessary for an individual to have a personal code of ethics? Why or why not?


use attached article for source to provide cited reference 

Week 1 Question 1 and 2

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> Illustrate how leaders have the power to cast light or shadow.

> Defend the importance of examining the dark side of leadership.

> Categorize the types of negative leadership.

> Describe the six ethical challenges faced by leaders.

> Explain how leaders cast shadows when they fail to meet the six ethical
challenges of leadership.

Yet I have something in me dangerous, which let thy wiseness fear.


We know where light is coming from by looking at the shadows.


This chapter introduces the dark (bad, toxic) side of leadership as the first step in promoting
good or ethical leadership. The metaphor of light and shadow dramatizes the differences
between moral and immoral leaders. Leaders have the power to illuminate the lives of
followers or to cover them in darkness. They cast light when they master ethical challenges of
leadership. They cast shadows when they (1) abuse power, (2) hoard privileges, (3) mismanage
information, (4) act inconsistently, (5) misplace or betray loyalties, and (6) fail to assume

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In an influential essay titled “Leading From Within,” educational writer and consultant Parker
Palmer introduces a powerful metaphor to dramatize the distinction between ethical and
unethical leadership. According to Palmer, the difference between moral and immoral leaders
is as sharp as the contrast between light and darkness, between heaven and hell:

A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions
under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that
can be either as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader must take
special responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, inside his or her

consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.1

For most of us, leadership has a positive connotation. We have been fortunate enough to
benefit from the guidance of teachers or coaches, for example, or we admire noteworthy
historical leaders. However, Palmer urges us to pay more attention to the shadow side of
leadership. Political figures, parents, clergy, and business executives have the potential to cast
as much shadow as they do light. The higher the position, the greater the leader’s discretion or

latitude to do harm.2 Refusing to face the dark side of leadership makes abuse more likely. All
too often, leaders “do not even know they are making a choice, let alone reflect on the process

of choosing.”3

Other scholars have joined Palmer in focusing on the dark or negative dimension of leadership.
Claremont Graduate University professor Jean Lipman-Blumen uses the term toxic leaders to
describe those who engage in destructive behaviors and who exhibit dysfunctional personal

characteristics.4 These behaviors and qualities (summarized in Table 1.1) cause significant
harm to followers and organizations.

Harvard professor Barbara Kellerman believes that limiting our understanding of leadership
solely to good leadership ignores the reality that a great many leaders engage in destructive

behaviors.5 Overlooking that fact, Kellerman says, undermines our attempts to promote good

I take it as a given that we promote good leadership not by ignoring bad leadership,
nor by presuming that it is immutable, but rather by attacking it as we would a

disease that is always pernicious and sometimes deadly.6

According to Kellerman, bad leaders can be ineffective, unethical, or ineffective and unethical.
She identifies seven types of bad leaders:


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These leaders don’t have the motivation or the ability to sustain effective action. They may lack
emotional or academic intelligence, for example, or be careless, distracted, or sloppy. Some
cannot function under stress, and their communication and decisions suffer as a result. Former
Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina failed as a leader because she isolated herself from
employees, lacked operational skills, and battled board members.


Rigid leaders may be competent, but they are unyielding, unable to accept new ideas, new
information, or changing conditions. General George Armstrong Custer was one such leader.
The headstrong general refused to listen to his scouts or to wait for the rest of his army.
Instead, he attacked thousands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors with a few hundred troops.
Custer and those who charged with him were slaughtered.


Intemperate leaders lack self-control and are enabled by followers who don’t want to intervene
or can’t. Former Maine governor Paul LePage demonstrates intemperate leadership in action.
LePage gained national attention by comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo,
saying he wanted to tell President Obama “to go to hell,” blaming people of color for the opioid
crisis, and challenging a lawmaker to a duel in a vile voice mail message. LePage served two
terms as governor despite his outrageous statements.


The callous leader is uncaring or unkind, ignoring or downplaying the needs, wants, and wishes
of followers. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro personifies the callous leader. He refuses
to accept food shipments from humanitarian organizations even as many of his citizens slowly

Table 1.1 The Behaviors and Personal Characteristics of Toxic Leaders

Destructive Behaviors Toxic Qualities

Leaving followers worse off Lack of integrity
Violating human rights Insatiable ambition
Feeding followers’ illusions; creating dependence Enormous egos
Playing to the basest fears and needs of


Stifling criticism; enforcing compliance Amorality (inability to discern right
from wrong)

Misleading followers Avarice (greed)
Subverting ethical organizational structures and

Reckless disregard for the costs of
their actions

Engaging in unethical, illegal, and criminal acts Cowardice (refusal to make tough

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Building totalitarian regimes Failure to understand problems
Failing to nurture followers, including successors Incompetence in key leadership

Setting constituents against one another  
Encouraging followers to hate or destroy others  
Identifying scapegoats  
Making themselves indispensable  
Ignoring or promoting incompetence, cronyism,
and corruption


Source: Adapted from Lipman-Blumen, J. (2005). The allure of toxic leaders: Why we follow destructive bosses and corrupt

politicians—and how we can survive them. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, pp. 19–23.


These leaders and (at least some of their followers) lie, cheat, and steal. They put self-interest
ahead of the public interest. Brazil’s ex-president Lula da Silva is an example of this type of
leader. At one time one of the most powerful people in Latin America, he is now serving prison
time. He and his wife received over a million dollars in free home improvements from a
construction company in exchange for contracts with Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company.


The insular leader draws a clear boundary between the welfare of his or her immediate group or
organization and outsiders. Australian senator Fraser Anning expressed insular sentiments
when he called for a ban on all immigrants of non-European descent. He singled out Muslims
in particular, declaring that a vote to ban Muslims would be “the final solution to the
immigration problem.” His words echoed that of the Nazis, whose plan to eliminate Jews was
called “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”


Evil leaders commit atrocities, using their power to inflict severe physical or psychological
harm. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one example of an evil leader. He heads ISIS, the Middle Eastern
terrorist group known for beheading male captives and turning female captives into sex slaves
for ISIS soldiers. Al-Baghdadi told his followers that Muslim believers have the right to enslave
all nonbelievers.

Lipman-Blumen and Kellerman developed their typologies based on case studies of prominent
leaders. Other investigators focus on ordinary leaders, particularly in organizational settings. In
one project, two researchers at Bond University in Australia (along with a colleague from the
United States) asked employees to explain why they would label someone as a bad leader,
describe how a bad leader made them feel, and describe the impact bad leaders had on them

and the organization as a whole.7 Respondents reported that bad leaders are incompetent (they
are unable to use technology, for example, and can’t work with subordinates or plan strategy)
and unethical (they demonstrate poor ethics as well as poor personal and interpersonal

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behavior). Such leaders made respondents angry and frustrated while lowering their self-
esteem. Individual and collective performance suffered as a result. Those working under bad
leaders reported feeling more stress at home. They had trouble sleeping, for instance, and felt
fatigued. Negative emotions toward their leaders consumed their thoughts and hurt their family
relationships. According to the survey, bad leaders often go unpunished; instead, many are
promoted or rewarded.

Using information generated by this study, the researchers developed a tool to measure
destructive organizational leadership. They discovered that demonstrating just a couple of bad
behaviors was enough to label a leader as destructive, even though he or she might also have
lots of positive qualities. The Bond scholars identified seven clusters of destructive leader


Cluster 1: This type of leader makes poor decisions (often based on inadequate
information), lies and engages in other unethical behavior, cannot deal with new
technology, and typically fails to prioritize and delegate.

Cluster 2: This type of leader lacks critical skills. She or he is unable to negotiate or
persuade and cannot develop or motivate subordinates.

Cluster 3: This type of leader makes good decisions and has the necessary leadership
skills but is overly controlling and micromanages followers.

Cluster 4: This type of leader can’t deal with conflict but plays favorites and behaves

Cluster 5: This type of leader isn’t all that bad but isn’t all that good either. Leaders in this
category don’t seek information from others, don’t change their minds, and don’t do a
good job of coordinating followers.

Cluster 6: This type of leader isolates the group from the rest of the organization.

Cluster 7: This type of leader creates a situation of significant misery and despair.
Leaders in this group are brutal and bullying, frequently lying and engaging in other
unethical behavior.

Ståle Einarsen and his Norwegian colleagues offer an alternative classification of bad
leadership based on its negative effects either on the organization or on followers. Destructive

leaders can be antiorganization, antisubordinates, or both.9 Tyrannical leaders reach
organizational goals while abusing followers. Supportive-disloyal leaders care for the welfare of
subordinates at the expense of organizational goals. They may tolerate loafing or stealing, for
example. Derailed leaders act against the interests of both subordinates and the organization.
As they bully, manipulate, deceive, and harass followers, they may also be stealing from the
organization, engaging in fraudulent activities, and doing less than expected. Laissez-faire
leaders engage in passive and indirect negative behavior. They occupy leadership positions but

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don’t exercise leadership, therefore hurting followers and their organizations. Constructive
leaders, on the other hand, care about subordinates and help the organization achieve its goals
while using resources wisely. Einarsen and his fellow researchers found a high rate of bad
leadership in Norwegian organizations, with 61% of respondents reporting that their immediate
supervisors engaged in ongoing destructive behavior over the past six months. Laissez-faire
behavior was by far the most common form of bad leadership, followed by supportive-disloyal

leadership, derailed leadership, and tyrannical leadership.10 (Turn to Self-Assessment 1.1 at the
end of this chapter to determine whether your leader engages in destructive leadership
behavior.) The negative effects of destructive leadership lasted longer than the positive effects

of constructive leadership.11

Evidence that bad leaders can cause significant damage continues to grow. In an analysis of
the results of 57 studies, investigators found that destructive leader behavior is linked to a

wide range of negative outcomes.12 Those serving under destructive leaders have negative
attitudes toward their superiors, resist their leaders’ influence attempts, and engage more
frequently in counterproductive work behaviors. In addition, these followers have negative
attitudes toward their jobs and their organizations. Their personal well-being also suffers as
they experience negative emotions and stress.

In sum, Palmer was right to emphasize the importance of the shadow side of leadership.
Followers from around the world have lots of firsthand experience with bad leaders and report
that such leaders cause significant, long-lasting damage. When it comes to leadership, “the bad

overcomes the good.”13 It apparently takes only a few destructive behaviors to overcome a
leader’s positive qualities. In addition, the shadows cast by destructive leaders extend beyond
the workplace; the home lives of followers are damaged as well.

When we function as leaders, we take on a unique set of ethical burdens in addition to a set of
expectations and tasks. These involve issues of power, privilege, information, consistency,
loyalty, and responsibility. How we handle the challenges of leadership determines whether we
cause more harm than good or, to return to Palmer’s metaphor, whether we cast light or
shadow. Unless we’re careful, we’re likely to cast one or more of the shadows described in this
section. (See the Focus on Followers box for more information on the ethical challenges
facing followers.)

The Shadow of Power

Power is the foundation for influence attempts. The more power we have, the more likely
others are to comply with our wishes. Power comes from a variety of sources. One typology,

for example, divides power into two categories: hard and soft.14 Hard power uses inducements
(bonuses, raises) and threats (arrests, firings) to get people to go along. Soft power is based on
attracting others rather than forcing them or inducing them to comply. Leaders use soft power
when they set a worthy example, create an inspiring vision, and build positive relationships with

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subordinates. Typically, those without formal authority rely more heavily on soft power, but
even those in formal leadership positions, such as military officers, try to attract followers by
acting as role models and emphasizing the group’s mission. Effective leaders combine hard
and soft power into smart power to achieve their goals. For instance, a manager may try to
persuade an employee to follow a new policy while at the same time outlining the penalties the
subordinate will face if he or she does not comply.

The most popular power classification system identifies five power bases.15 Coercive power is
based on penalties or punishments such as physical force, salary reductions, student
suspensions, or embargoes against national enemies. Reward power depends on being able to
deliver something of value to others, whether tangible (bonuses, health insurance, grades) or
intangible (praise, trust, cooperation). Legitimate power resides in the position, not the person.
Supervisors, judges, police officers, drill sergeants, instructors, and parents have the right to
control our behavior within certain limits. A boss can require us to carry out certain tasks at
work, for example, but in most cases, he or she has no say in what we do in our free time. In
contrast to legitimate power, expert power is based on the characteristics of the individual
regardless of that person’s official position. Knowledge, skills, education, and certification all
build expert power. Referent (role model) power rests on the admiration one person has for
another. We’re more likely to do favors for a supervisor we admire or to buy a product
promoted by our favorite sports hero.

Leaders typically draw on more than one power source. The manager who is appointed to lead
a task force is granted legitimate power that enables her to reward or punish. Yet in order to be
successful, she’ll have to demonstrate her knowledge of the topic, skillfully direct the group
process, and earn the respect of task force members through hard work and commitment to
the group.

The use of each power type has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the dispensing of
rewards is widely accepted in Western culture but can be counterproductive if the rewards
promote the wrong behaviors (see Chapter 10) or go to the wrong people. U.S. workers are
more satisfied and productive when their leaders rely on forms of power that are tied to the
person (expert and referent) rather than forms of power that are linked to the position

(coercive, reward, and legitimate).16 In addition, positional power is more susceptible to abuse.
Coercive tactics have the potential to do the most damage, threatening the dignity as well as
the physical and mental health of followers. Leaders, then, have important decisions to make
about the types of power they use and when. (Complete Self-Assessment 1.2 to determine the
types of power you prefer to use.)

Focus on Follower Ethics

The Ethical Challenges of Followership

Followers, like leaders, face their own set of ethical challenges. Followers walk on the
dark side when they fail to meet the moral responsibilities of their roles. Important

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ethical challenges confronted by followers include those described below.

The Challenge of Obligation. Followers contribute to a shadowy atmosphere when they
fail to fulfill their minimal responsibilities by coming to work late, taking extended
breaks, not carrying out assignments, undermining the authority of their leaders,
stealing supplies, and so on. However, they can also contribute to an unethical climate
by taking on too many obligations. Employees forced to work mandatory overtime and
salaried staff at many technology and consulting firms work 70 to 80 hours a week,
leaving little time for family and personal interests. They experience stress and burnout,
and their family relationships suffer.

Followers also have ethical duties to outsiders. Carpenters and other tradespeople
involved in home construction have an obligation to buyers to build high-quality houses
and to meet deadlines, for example. Government employees owe it to taxpayers to
spend their money wisely by working hard while keeping expenses down.

These questions can help us sort out the obligations we owe as followers:

Am I doing all I reasonably can to carry out my tasks and further the mission of
my organization? What more could I do?

Am I fulfilling my obligations to outsiders (clients, neighbors, community,
customers)? Are there any additional steps I should take?

Am I giving back to the group or organization as much as I am taking from it?

Am I carrying my fair share of the workload?

Am I serving the needs of my leaders?

Am I earning the salary and benefits I receive?

Can I fulfill my organizational obligations and, at the same time, maintain a
healthy personal life and productive relationships? If not, what can I do to bring
my work and personal life into balance?

The Challenge of Obedience. Groups and organizations couldn’t function if members
refused to obey orders or adhere to policies, even the ones they don’t like. As a result,
followers have an ethical duty to obey. However, blindly following authority can drive
followers to engage in illegal and immoral activities that they would never participate in
on their own. Obeying orders is no excuse for unethical behavior. Therefore, deciding
when to disobey is critical. To make this determination, consider the following factors:
Does this order appear to call for unethical behavior? Would I engage in this course of
action if I weren’t ordered to? What are the potential consequences for others, and for
myself, if these directions are followed? Does obedience threaten the mission and
health of the organization as a whole? What steps should I take if I decide to disobey?

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The Challenge of Cynicism. There is a difference between healthy skepticism, which
prevents followers from being exploited, and unhealthy cynicism, which undermines
individual and group performance. Followers darken the atmosphere when they become
organizational cynics. That’s because cynicism destroys commitment and undermines
trust. Collective performance suffers as a result. Few give their best effort when they
are disillusioned with the group. Cynical employees feel less identification with and
commitment to their employers while being more resistant to change; they are less
likely to go beyond their job duties to help their colleagues and their organizations. The
greater the degree of cynicism, the more effort is directed toward attacking the
organization at the expense of completing the task at hand.

The Challenge of Dissent. Expressing disagreement is an important ethical duty of
followership. Followers should take issue with policies and procedures that are
inefficient, harmful, or costly and with leaders who harm others or put the organization
at risk. Doing so serves the mission of the organization while protecting the rights of
its members and the larger community. Although followers contribute to a shadowy
environment when they fail to speak up, they can go too far by generating a constant
stream of complaints. Ethical followers know when to speak up (not every issue is
worth contesting) and when to wait until a more important issue comes along. They
must also determine whether the problem is significant enough to justify going outside
the organization (becoming a whistle-blower) if leaders don’t respond.

The Challenge of Bad News. Delivering bad news is risky business. Followers who tell
their bosses that the project is over budget, that sales are down, or that the software
doesn’t work as promised may be verbally abused, demoted, or fired. Organizations and
leaders pay a high price when followers hide or cover up bad news, deny responsibility,
or shift blame. Leaders can’t correct problems they don’t know exist. Failure to address
serious deficiencies such as accounting fraud, cost overruns, and product
contamination can destroy an organization. Leaders who don’t get feedback about their
ineffective habits—micromanaging, poor listening skills, indecisiveness—can’t address
those behaviors. When leaders deny accountability and shift blame, this undermines
trust and diverts people’s focus from solving problems to defending themselves.

To avoid contributing to a shadowy environment, followers must deliver bad news and
accept responsibility for their actions. They also need to pay close attention to how
they deliver bad tidings, selecting the right time, place, and message channel. Significant
problems should be brought to the leader’s attention immediately, when he or she is
most receptive, and delivered face-to-face whenever possible, not through e-mail, faxes,
and other, less personal channels.

Source: Adapted from Johnson, C. E. (2015). Organizational ethics: A practical approach (3rd ed.).

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, Ch. 9.

Additional Sources

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Bedian, A. G. (2007). Even if the tower is “ivory,” it isn’t “white”: Understanding the
consequences of faculty cynicism. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 6,

Dean, J. W., Brandes, P., & Dharwadkar, R. (1998). Organizational cynicism. Academy of
Management Review, 23, 341–352.

Hajdin, M. (2005). Employee loyalty: An examination. Journal of Business Ethics, 59,

Peyton Roberts, T. P., & Zigarmi, D. (2014). The impact of dispositional cynicism on job-
specific affect and work intentions. International Journal of Psychology, 49, 381–389.

Roloff, M. E., & Paulson, G. D. (2001). Confronting organizational transgressions. In J. M.
Darley, D. M. Messick, & T. R. Tyler (Eds.), Social influences on ethical behavior in
organizations (pp. 53–68). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Schrag, B. (2001). The moral significance of employee loyalty. Business Ethics Quarterly,
11 , 41–66.

Stanley, D. J., Meyer, J. P., & Topolnytsky, L. (2005). Employee cynicism and resistance
to organizational change. Journal of Business and Psychology, 19, 429–459.

The fact that leadership cannot exist without power makes some Americans uncomfortable.
We admire powerful leaders who act decisively but can be reluctant to admit that we have and
use power. Sadly, our refusal to face up to the reality of power can make us more vulnerable to
the shadow side of leadership. Cult leader Jim Jones presided over the suicide–murder of 909
followers in the jungles of Guyana. Perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided if cult

members and outside observers had challenged Jones’s abuse of power.17 Conversely, ignoring
the topic of power prevents the attainment of worthy objectives, leaving followers in darkness.
Consider the case of the community activist who wants to build a new shelter for homeless
families. He can’t help these families unless he skillfully wields power to enlist the support of
local groups, overcome resistance of opponents, raise funds, and secure building permits.

I suspect that we are suspicious of power because we recognize that power has a corrosive
effect on those who possess it. We’ve seen how U.S. president Richard Nixon used the power
of his office to order illegal acts against his enemies and how Russian president Vladimir Putin
used military force to take over part of the neighboring country of Ukraine while, at the same
time, he allegedly ordered the killing of opposition figures and journalists. Many corporate
leaders have been intoxicated by their power, using their positions to abuse their subordinates.
One such boss wouldn’t grant time off so an employee could be with her dying grandmother,
saying, “Well she’s not dead yet so I don’t have to grant your leave.” Another called the
paramedics when an employee had a heart attack and then ordered everyone else to go back to
work even as the victim was still lying on the floor. Another wouldn’t let an injured employee
get treatment for a broken ankle until she had first finished processing invoices. Yet another

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berated and humiliated a subordinate who suffered an emotional breakdown and had to be

hospitalized. His response? “I can’t help it if she is overly sensitive.”18 (Case Study 1.1
describes a corporate leader who used his power to cover up sexual abuse.)

Unfortunately, abuse of power is an all-too-common fact of life in modern organizations. A
survey commissioned by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 1 out of every 5 Americans
have been targets of bullying. In another survey, nearly 75% of respondents had either been a
target or a witness of such behavior. According to one estimate, workplace bullying costs the

U.S. economy $360 billion in lost productivity every year.19 “Brutal” bosses regularly engage in

the following behaviors, some of which will be discussed in more detail later in the chapter:20

Deceit: lying and giving false or misleading information

Constraint: restricting followers’ activities outside work, such as telling them whom they
can befriend, where they can live, with whom they can live, and the civic activities they
can participate in

Coercion: making inappropriate or excessive threats for not complying with the leader’s

Selfishness: blaming subordinates and making them scapegoats

Inequity: supplying unequal benefits or punishments based on favoritism or criteria
unrelated to the job

Cruelty: harming subordinates in such illegitimate ways as name-calling or public

Disregard: ignoring normal standards of politeness, obvious disregard for what is
happening in the lives of followers

Deification: creating a master–servant relationship in which bosses can do whatever they
want because they feel superior

The cost of the petty tyranny of bad bosses is high. Victims suffer low self-esteem,
psychological distress and poorer health; are less satisfied with their jobs and lives; are less
productive; and are more likely to quit. The work unit as a whole is less trusting and cohesive,

reducing collective performance.21 Researchers have yet to report any positive outcomes of
abusive supervision. Instead, studies conducted in a several different countries link oppressive
supervision to depression, emotional exhaustion, counterproductive work behavior, job tension,

and feelings of injustice.22 Workers respond to tyranny by surrendering their personal beliefs,
keeping a low profile, engaging in revenge fantasies, taking indirect revenge (i.e., not supporting
the boss at a critical moment), challenging the supervisor directly, or bringing in outsiders
(such as the human resources department or the boss’s boss) to get help in dealing with the

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abusive leader.23 They also spend a lot of time bemoaning how they are being treated. The
majority of employees in one project reported spending 10 or more hours every month
complaining about abusive and other kinds of bad bosses or listening to the complaints of

fellow workers.24

The greater a leader’s power, the greater the potential for abuse. This prompted Britain’s Lord
Acton to observe that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The long
shadow cast by absolute power, as in the case of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, can be seen in
censorship, repression, torture, imprisonment, murder, and starvation. (Box 1.1 describes
another leader who ruled by terror.) Businesses and other organizations foster centralization of
power through top-down structures that emphasize status differences, loyalty, dependence,
fear, and obedience while celebrating “tough” bosses and business practices like hard

bargaining and aggressive marketing tactics.25

Psychologists offer several explanations for why concentrated power is so dangerous.26 First,
power prompts people to pursue their goals without considering the needs of others. They are
likely to justify their actions by claiming that their personal rights a

Week 1 Question 1 and 2

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keep this information to herself for a couple of weeks until the deal is completed. In the
interim, employees may make financial commitments—such as home and car purchases—that
they would postpone if they knew that major changes were in the works. Should the manager
voluntarily share information about the merger with such employees despite her orders? What
happens when a member of her department asks her to confirm or deny the rumor that the
company is about to merge? (Turn to Case Study 1.2 to see how leaders disagree about how
much information to release.)

Privacy issues raise additional ethical concerns. Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and other DNA-
testing companies are building databases that can be accessed by drug companies and law
enforcement. (The suspected Golden State killer was identified through genetic profiles housed
at GEDmatch.) Information collected from high school students on college-planning surveys is

sold to colleges and those marketing educational programs.33 Hundreds of thousands of
cameras track our movements at automated teller machines, in parking lots, at stores, and in
other public places (and even in not-so-public places, such as high school bathrooms and
hospital rooms). Drones now make it possible for law enforcement officials and private
citizens to secretly film our homes and backyards from the sky. Our interactions with police
officers are likely to be recorded now that body cameras are becoming standard equipment for
many police departments. The Transportation Safety Administration employs air marshals to
secretly monitor airline passengers who are not on any terrorist database, looking for
suspicious behaviors—excessive sweating and nervousness, frequent bathroom visits—that

could signal that someone poses a danger.34

Employers are also gathering more and more information about employee behavior both on
and off the job. Technology allows supervisors to monitor computer keystrokes and computer
screens, phone calls, website use, voice mail, and e-mail. According to one survey, at least 66%
of U.S. companies track employee Internet use, 45% log keystrokes, and 43% track employee e-

mails.35 One digital program tracks every move of every waiter and every order at restaurants.
Sociometric Solutions conducts research in the banking, pharmaceutical, health care, and
technology industries using sensors embedded in ID badges. These microphones, location
sensors, and accelerometers track the communication behaviors of workers—tone of voice,
posture, body language, and which employees talk to other employees and for how long.
Employers also monitor worker behavior outside the workplace. Employees have been fired for
posting offensive comments and pictures on blogs and social networking sites. Employers use
personal information on Facebook and other social networking sites to screen out job

Companies have a right to gather information in order to improve performance and eliminate
waste and theft. Organizations are also liable for the inappropriate behavior of members, such
as when they send sexist or racist messages using their companies’ e-mail systems.
Investigators discovered that the restaurant monitoring not only reduced employee theft but

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increased revenue substantially as staff, knowing they were being observed, encouraged more
patrons to order drinks and dessert. Truck sensors enabled UPS to deliver 1.4 million additional
packages a day with 1,000 fewer drivers. And monitoring can also lead to better working
conditions. Bank of America added a 15-minute shared coffee break after a Sociometric
Solutions study revealed that employees who took breaks together were more productive and

less likely to quit.36 However, efforts to monitor employee behavior are sometimes done
without the knowledge of workers and are inconsistent with organizational values such as trust
and community. Invading privacy takes away the right of employees to determine what they

reveal about themselves; unwanted intrusion devalues their worth as individuals.37

In conclusion, leaders cast shadows not only when they lie but also when they mismanage
information and engage in deceptive practices. Unethical leaders

deny having knowledge that is in their possession,

hide the truth,

fail to reveal conflicts of interest,

withhold information that followers need,

use information solely for personal benefit,

violate the privacy rights of followers,

release information to the wrong people, and

put followers in ethical binds by preventing them from releasing information that others
have a legitimate right to know.

Patterns of deception, whether they take the form of outright lies or the hiding or distortion of
information, destroy the trust that binds leaders and followers together. Consider the popularity
of conspiracy theories, for example. Many Americans are convinced that the U.S. Air Force is
hiding the fact that aliens landed in Roswell, New Mexico. Many also believe that law
enforcement officials are deliberately ignoring evidence that John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther
King Jr. were the victims of elaborate assassination plots. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones
drew millions of visitors monthly to his website and radio show before they were shut down.
He accused federal officials of faking mass shootings and bombings at Oklahoma City, the
Boston Marathon, Sandy Hook Elementary, and Columbine. These theories are farfetched, but
they flourish in part because government leaders have created a shadow atmosphere through
deceit. Consider all the falsehoods surrounding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance.
It wasn’t until after the first Gulf War that we learned that our “smart bombs” weren’t really so
smart and missed their targets. The president and other cabinet officials overstated the danger
posed by Saddam Hussein in order to rally support for the second Gulf War. The military
covered up the fact that NFL star Pat Tillman was killed by friendly, not enemy, fire.

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University of California, Davis history professor Kathryn Olmsted argues that many Americans
believe that the government is out to get them in large part because government officials have

previously engaged in secret conspiracies.38 In 1962, for example, the Joint Chiefs of Staff
cooked up a plan to get citizens to support a war on Fidel Castro’s Cuba by sending a drone
plane painted to look like a passenger airliner over the island to be shot down. Fortunately, this
plot (dubbed “Operation Northwoods”) never went into effect. However, many others were
implemented. According to Olmsted,

By the height of the Cold War, government agents had consorted with mobsters to
kill a foreign leader, dropped hallucinogenic drugs into the drinks of unsuspecting
Americans in random bars, and considered launching fake terrorist attacks on
Americans in the United States. Public officials had denied potentially life-saving
treatment to African American men in medical experiments, sold arms to terrorists
in return for American hostages, and faked documents to frame past presidents for
crimes they had not committed. . . . Later, as industrious congressmen and
journalists revealed these actual conspiracies by the government, many Americans
came to believe that the most outrageous conspiracy theories about the government

could be plausible.39

Leaders must also consider ethical issues related to the image they hope to project to
followers. In order to earn their positions and to achieve their objectives, leaders carefully
manage the impressions they make on others. Impression management can be compared to a

performance on a stage.40 Leader-actors carefully manage everything from the setting to their
words and nonverbal behaviors in order to have the desired effects on their follower audiences.
For example, presidential staffers make sure that the chief executive is framed by visual
images (Mount Rushmore, the Oval Office, enthusiastic crowds of supporters) that reinforce his
(or her) messages, popularity and presidential standing. Like politicians, leaders in charge of
such high-risk activities as mountain climbing and whitewater kayaking also work hard to
project the desired impressions. In order to appear confident and competent, they stand up
straight, look others in the eye, and use an authoritative tone of voice.

Impression management is integral to effective leadership because followers have images of

ideal leaders called prototypes.41 We expect that the mountain climbing guide will be confident
(otherwise, we would cancel the trip!), that the small-group leader will be active in group
discussions, and that the military leader will stay calm under fire. The closer the person is to
the ideal, the more likely it is that we will select that person as leader and accept her or his
influence. Nonetheless, some people (including a number of students) find the concept of
impression management ethically troubling. They particularly value integrity and see such role-
playing as insincere because a leader may have to disguise his or her true feelings in order to
be successful.

There is no doubt that impression management can be used to reach immoral ends. Disgraced
financier Bernie Madoff, for example, convinced investors that he was a financial genius even

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as he was stealing their money in a gigantic fraud scheme. Careerists who are skilled at

promoting themselves at the expense of others are all too common.42 It would be impossible
to eliminate this form of influence, however. For one thing, others form impressions of us
whether we are conscious of that fact or not. They judge our personality and values by what we
wear, for instance, even if we don’t give much thought to what we put on in the morning. Most
of us use impression management to convey our identities accurately, not to conceal them or
to manipulate others.

When considering the morality of impression management, we need to consider its end
products. Ethical impression managers meet group wants and needs, not just the needs of the
leaders. They spur followers toward highly moral ends. These leaders use impression
management to convey accurate information, to build positive interpersonal relationships, and
to facilitate good decisions. Unethical impression managers produce the opposite effects,
subverting group wishes and lowering purpose and aspiration. These leaders use dysfunctional
impression management to send deceptive messages, to undermine relationships, and to

distort information, which leads to poor conclusions and decisions.43

The Shadow of Inconsistency

Leaders deal with a variety of constituencies, each with its own set of abilities, needs, and
interests. In addition, they like some followers better than others. Leader–member exchange
(LMX) theory is based on the notion that a leader develops a closer relationship with one group

of followers than with others.44 Members of the “in-group” become the leader’s advisers,
assistants, and lieutenants. High levels of trust, mutual influence, and support characterize
their exchanges with the leader. Members of the “out-group” are expected to carry out the basic
requirements of their jobs. Their communication with the leader is not as trusting and
supportive. Not surprisingly, members of in-groups are more satisfied and productive than
members of out-groups. For that reason, LMX theorists encourage leaders to develop close
relationships with as many of their followers as possible.

Situational variables also complicate leader–follower interactions. Guidelines that work in
ordinary times may break down under stressful conditions. A professor may state in a syllabus
that five absences will result in a student’s flunking the class, for instance. However, she may
have to loosen that standard if a flu epidemic strikes the campus.

Diverse followers, varying levels of relationships, and elements of the situation make
consistency an ethical burden of leadership. Should we, as leaders, treat all followers equally
even if some are more skilled and committed or closer to us than others? When should we
bend the rules and for whom? Shadows arise when leaders appear to act arbitrarily and unfairly
when faced with questions such as these, as in the case of a resident assistant who enforces
dormitory rules for some students but ignores infractions committed by friends. Of course,
determining whether a leader is casting light or shadow may depend on where you stand as a
follower. If you are the star player on your team, you may feel justified taking it easy during
practices. If you are less talented, you probably resent the fact that the team’s star doesn’t have
to work as hard as you.

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Too often, inconsistency arises between what a leader advocates and how he or she behaves,
such as when rabbis and pastors have affairs at the same time they are encouraging members
of their congregations to build strong marriages. Managers at Britain’s EDF energy company
sparked a union strike after installing meters in employee company cars to track their location
and performance. The issue wasn’t so much the meters as the refusal of managers to put the
same tracking devices in their own company vehicles. Duncan Selbie, head of Britain’s National
Health Service, was criticized for hiring a taxi to travel less than a mile after giving a lecture on

the importance of exercise (particularly brisk walking).45

In recent years, a number of prominent figures seem to have taken inconsistency to a new
level. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert advocated for stronger punishment for sex
crimes and sexual abuse of children while paying hush money to a man he molested when
working as a high school wrestling coach. Comedian Bill Cosby criticized fellow African
Americans for not taking personal responsibility and bad parenting even as he was allegedly
drugging and raping a series of women. (He was convicted on three counts of sexual assault.)

Issues of inconsistency can also arise in a leader’s relationships with those outside the
immediate group or organization. Misgivings about the current system of financing political
elections stem from the fact that large donors can buy access to elected officials and
influence their votes. Take the rollback of banking regulations, for example. Congress passed
the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 to curb the excesses that caused the global financial crash. Eight
years later, the House and Senate eliminated many of the provisions of Dodd-Frank, reducing
regulation of the banking industry. Banks and credit unions gave twice as much to senators

supporting the rollback than to those opposing the bill.46

The Shadow of Misplaced and Broken Loyalties

Leaders must weigh a host of loyalties or duties when making choices. In addition to their
duties to employees and stockholders, they must consider their obligations to their families,
their local communities, their professions, the larger society, and the environment. Noteworthy
leaders put the needs of the larger community above selfish interest. For example, outdoor
clothing manufacturer Timberland receives praise for its commitment to community service
and social responsibility. Company leaders pay employees for volunteer service, partner with
community groups, and support nonprofit organizations through the sale of selected products.
In contrast, those leaders who appear to put their own interests first (see Case Study 1.3) are
worthy of condemnation.

Loyalties can be broken as well as misplaced. If anything, we heap more scorn on those who
betray our trust than on those who misplace their loyalties. Many of history’s villains are
traitors: Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling (he sold out his fellow Norwegians to
the Nazis), and Tokyo Rose, a U.S. citizen who broadcast to American troops on behalf of the
Japanese during World War II. More recent examples of leaders who violated the trust of
followers include the leaders of Lehman Brothers, who told investors that the firm was strong
even as it was struggling to raise money to stave off bankruptcy during the financial crisis, and
cyclist Lance Armstrong. Armstrong betrayed his team sponsors, fans, and fellow cancer

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survivors by doping (and then vehemently denying he had done so) in order to win seven Tour
de France races.

Employees are often victimized by corporate betrayal motivated by the bottom line. Individuals
commonly develop deep loyalties to their coworkers and to their employers. As a
consequence, they may do more than is required in their job descriptions, turn down attractive

job offers from other employers, and decide to invest their savings in company stock.47

Unfortunately, companies and their leaders often fail to respond in kind. During economic
downturns, they are quick to slash salaries and benefits and to lay off even the most loyal
workers. Even if business is good, they don’t hesitate to merge with other firms, eliminating
positions, or to shut down domestic plants and research facilities in order to move their
operations overseas, where labor costs are lower. Organizational leaders admit that their
organizations aren’t as loyal as they used to be. One survey of senior level North American
managers found that only 13% believe that their organizations are more loyal than they were

five years ago.48 In response growing corporate disloyalty, many younger workers limit the
length of their commitment to their employers, with over 40% expecting to leave in two years or

The most egregious cases of betrayal are cases where adults take advantage of children.
Catholic priests in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Australia, Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere
used their positions as respected spiritual authorities to gain access to young parishioners for

sexual gratification.49 Church leaders failed to stop the abusers or themselves engaged in
abuse. In far too many instances, they let offending priests continue to minister and to have
contact with children. Often, church officials transferred pedophile priests without warning their
new congregations about these men’s troubled pasts. Officials at Michigan State, USA
Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic Committee turned a blind eye to complaints that
team doctor Larry Nassar was sexually molesting young female gymnasts. Over 300 girls and

young women were victimized.50

Philosopher George Fletcher argues that we define ourselves through our loyalties to families,

sports franchises, companies, and other groups and organizations.51 Fellow philosopher
Josiah Royce contends that loyalty to the right cause produces admirable character traits like

justice, wisdom, and compassion.52 Loyalty is a significant burden placed on leaders. In fact,
well-placed loyalty can make a significant moral statement. Such was the case with Pee Wee
Reese. The Brooklyn Dodger never wavered in his loyalty to Jackie Robinson, the first black
player in baseball’s major leagues. In front of one especially hostile crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio,

Reese put his arm around Robinson’s shoulders in a display of support.53

The Shadow of Irresponsibility

Earlier, we observed that breadth of responsibility is one of the factors distinguishing between
the role of leader and that of follower. Followers are largely responsible for their own actions
or, in the case of a self-directed work team, for those of their peers. This is not the case for
leaders. They are held accountable for the performance of entire departments or other units.

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However, determining the extent of a leader’s responsibility is far from easy. Can we blame a
college coach for the misdeeds of team members during the off-season or for the excesses of
the university’s athletic booster club? Are clothing executives responsible for the actions of
their overseas contractors who force workers to labor in sweatshops? Do employers owe
employees a minimum wage level, a certain degree of job security, and safe working
conditions? If military personnel are punished for following unethical orders, should those who
issue those orders receive the same or harsher penalties?

Leaders act irresponsibly when they fail to make reasonable efforts to prevent misdeeds on the
part of their followers, ignore or deny ethical problems, don’t shoulder responsibility for the
consequences of their directives, deny their duties to followers, or try to deflect blame onto
others. We don’t hold coaches responsible for everything their players do. Nonetheless, we
want them to encourage their athletes to obey the law and to punish any misbehavior. Most of
us expect Gap, Nike, JC Penney, Walmart, and Banana Republic to make every effort to treat
their overseas labor force fairly, convinced that the companies owe their workers (even the
ones employed by subcontractors) decent wages and working conditions. When an
organization’s employees break the law or make mistakes, we want the group’s leader to take
accountability. Penny Lawrence, a top Oxfam executive, accepted blame for failing to stop
sexual misconduct by the charity’s staff in Chad and Haiti. “I am ashamed that this happened

on my watch,” she said in her resignation statement, “and I take full responsibility.” 54

Unfortunately, far too many leaders try to pin the blame on others for their misdeeds or the
unethical behavior of their organizations. Richard Sackler, president and part owner of Purdue
Pharma, tried to deny responsibility for his company’s role in the opioid crisis. The firm
aggressively marketed OxyContin, encouraged doctors to prescribe the highest amounts of the
powerful painkiller, and failed to alert authorities that the drug was being abused and sold on
the street. Instead of accepting accountability, Sackler pushed the blame onto addicts. In a
company e-mail he said, “We have to hammer on abusers in every way possible. They are the

culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”55 Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg also

deflected blame by hiring a public relations firm to attack critics of the company.56

Many corporate scandals demonstrate what can happen when boards of directors fail to live up
to their responsibilities. Far too many boards in the past functioned only as rubber stamps.
Made up largely of friends of the CEO and those doing business with the firm, they were quick
to approve executive pay increases and other management proposals. Some board members
appeared interested only in collecting their fees and made little effort to understand the
operations or finances of the companies they were supposed to be directing. Other members
were well intentioned but lacked expertise. Now federal regulations require that the chair of a
corporation’s audit committee be a financial expert. The compensation, audit, and nominating
committees must be made up of people who have no financial ties to the organization. These
requirements should help prevent future abuses, but only if board members take their
responsibilities seriously. (I’ll have more to say about effective corporate governance in
Chapter 10.)

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These, then, are some of the common shadows cast by leaders faced with the ethical
challenges of leadership. Identifying these shadows raises two important questions: (1) Why is
it that, when faced with the same ethical challenges, some leaders cast light and others cast
shadows? (2) What steps can we take as leaders to cast more light than shadow? In the next
chapter, we will explore the forces that contribute to the shadow side of leadership and outline
ways to meet those challenges.

Implications and Applications

Understanding the dark (bad, toxic) side of leadership is the first step in
promoting good or ethical leadership.

The contrast between ethical and unethical leadership is as dramatic as the
contrast between light and darkness.

Toxic or bad leaders engage in destructive behaviors. They may be ineffective,
unethical, or both. Common types of bad leaders include incompetent, rigid,
intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil.

Certain ethical challenges or dilemmas are inherent in the leadership role. If you
choose to become a leader, recognize that you accept ethical burdens along with
new tasks, expectations, and rewards.

Followers face their own set of ethical challenges. When filling a follower role,
you will need to determine the extent of your obligations to the group, decide
when to obey or disobey, combat cynicism, offer dissent, and deliver bad news to
your leaders.

Power can have a corrosive effect on values and behavior. You must determine
how much power to accumulate, what forms of power to use, and how much
power to give to followers.

If you abuse power, you will generally overlook the needs of followers as you take
advantage of the perks that come with your position.

Leaders have access to more information than do followers. In addition to
deciding whether or not to hide or tell the truth, as a leader, you’ll have to
determine when to reveal what you know and to whom, how to gather and use
information, and so on.

A certain degree of inconsistency is probably inevitable in leadership roles, but
you will cast shadows if you are seen as acting arbitrarily and unfairly. You must
also attempt to match your behavior with your words and values—to “walk your

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As a leader, you’ll have to balance your needs and the needs of your small group
or organization with loyalties or duties to broader communities. Expect
condemnation if you put narrow, selfish concerns first.

Leadership brings a broader range of responsibility, but determining the limits of
accountability may be difficult. You will cast a shadow if you fail to make a
reasonable attempt to prevent abuse or to shoulder the blame, deny that you have
a duty to followers, or deflect blame onto others.

For Further Exploration, Challenge, and Self-Assessment

1. Create an ethics journal. In it, describe the ethical dilemmas you encounter as a
leader and as a follower, how you resolve them, how you feel about the outcomes,
and what you learn that will transfer to future ethical decisions. You may also
want to include your observations about the moral choices made by public
figures. Make periodic entries as you continue to read this text.

2. Harvard professor Rosabeth Kanter argues that “powerlessness corrupts and
absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.” Do you agree? What are some of
the symptoms of powerlessness?

3. What does your score on the Destructive Leader Behavior Scale (Self-Assessment
1.1) reveal about your leader? How can you use this information to become a
more effective follower? As an alternative, reflect on your Personal Power Profile
(Self-Assessment 1.2). What do your scores reveal about your attitude toward
power and the ethical issues you might face in exercising power? Would you like
to change your power profile? How can you do so?

4. What factors do you consider when determining the extent of your loyalty to an
individual, a group, or an organization?

5. Debate the following propositions in class:

The federal government should set limits on executive compensation.

Coaches should be held accountable for the actions of their players in the

Corporate leaders have an obligation to be loyal to their employees.

Married politicians and religious figures who have extramarital affairs
should be forced to resign.

Employers have the right to monitor the behavior of workers when the
workers are not on the job.

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�. Evaluate the work of a corporate or nonprofit board of directors. Is the board
made up largely of outside members? Are the members qualified? Does the board
fulfill its leadership responsibilities? Write up your findings.

7. Write a research paper on the privacy issues surrounding drones, police body
cameras, or the use of DNA databases in criminal investigations. Conclude with a
set of recommendations on how these issues should be resolved.

�. Look for examples of unethical leadership behavior in the news and classify them
according to the six shadows. What patterns do you note? As an alternative, look
for examples of ethical leadership. How do these leaders cast light instead of

9. What is the toughest ethical challenge of being a follower? How do you meet that

Student Study Site

Visit the student study site at https://study.sagepub.com/johnsonmecl7e to access full
SAGE journal articles for further research and information on key chapter topics.


Powerful leaders are not only more tempted to abuse their power; they have the means
to cover up their abuse when they do. For decades, there were rumors that movie mogul
Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator. In fact, Seth MacFarlane joked with the Best
Supporting Actress nominees at the 2013 Oscar nomination ceremony, telling the
women, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to

Harvey Weinstein.”1 Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax and Weinstein pictures,
allegedly would pressure young actresses into sexual encounters in return for casting
them in his movies. Victims included Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, and
Rose McGowan. Weinstein’s abuses came to light in New York Times and New Yorker
articles. Multiple accusers claim that the producer made constant sexual propositions,
exposed himself, masturbated in front of them, and forced them into sex. Weinstein
apologized for his behavior and was removed from his company.

Producer Weinstein used his wealth and influence as a Hollywood superstar to silence
his accusers. In some cases, complainants reached nondisclosure agreements (NDAs)
where, in return for a cash payment, they agreed to not further pursue or even to discuss
their cases. If they did talk about their settlements, they would have to repay the money
they received. In other instances, Weinstein hired private security companies to dig up

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dirt about the women to use against them. In the case of model Ambra Battilana
Gutierrez, false information (i.e., charges she was a prostitute) from these
investigations was published in the New York Post tabloid. Investigators, some of them
former Mossad agents, also investigated reporters and tried to identify their sources
with the goal of stopping the New Yorker and New York Times stories. The producer
also enlisted the help of former employees to gather information and to stop possible
press stories.

Weinstein’s position as a Hollywood gatekeeper made it hard for his victims to speak
up. Challenging him could mean being blackballed from the movie industry. On the other
hand, “Everyone knew if you were in a Harvey movie, chances are you were going to win

or be nominated for an Oscar.”2 Miramax earned best picture awards for The English
Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and Chicago; the studio no

Week 1 Question 1 And 2