Why CEOs Do Bad Things?

Life at the top of an organization can lead some CEOs to feel isolated, right, and supported more than they are—misconduct in the workplace.

Senior executives often seem to forget that the rules of conduct in the workplace apply to them, too.

Due to workplace CEOs, misconduct is widespread. Time and time again, we hear of senior officials in companies, universities, or government resigning, either because they have ties to their subordinates in their inner circles or because they gave a word of mouth advances to junior workers who went too far.

These fallen bosses are generally brilliant people, often with excellent career histories. So why would they allow themselves to get bogged down in situations that allegedly actually violate the standards they helped set or sign? What is it about life at the top that tempts them (so to speak) into forgetting that the rules apply to them too?

Here are some tendencies that, when left unchecked, may help explain why so many top CEOs make sudden stumbles.

Feeling Isolated

It’s incredible how easy it is for top executives to feel that they have a mantle of invisibility, even if they are operating in the public eye. They have back doors into the ballroom for the conference. He drove cars to keep her away from crowds and lines. Private bathrooms near their offices. A few close personal assistants who lock doors and clean up messes. Because of this isolation, some senior executives who should know better may believe that they can separate their personal life and behavior from their official roles. To them, even email seems private, so they send messages crossing lines impulsively.

Feeling Right

Self-confidence can veer into arrogance if the executive is not careful. Senior officials can feel superior to the humans below, surrounded by flirts who exaggerate the brilliance of their words. They have incentives or penalties for hanging around to inspire fear and put people in line. So, in addition to feeling invincible, these leaders can begin to feel indispensable. They began to think that they were the company essential to their success. Therefore, they feel justified to seize what they want for themselves, believing that they are entitled to indulge.

Buy Their Hype

Those at the top of organizations learn to tell a good story. Demonstrating optimism and making positive events attract investors/voters/talents. However, some executives are beginning to believe their hype that the only thing that matters is a quarterly earnings report or the next big donation. As for a bit of misbehavior, they tell themselves they can make up for it with a good performance or finish it before anyone notices. The problem is that the motive remains. They are seeking the same rush of gratification again. Once you loosen your restraint, it becomes more accessible next time.

Not Admitting Mistakes

It can be challenging for some people at the top to say, “I was wrong,” which is why misbehavior often persists and requires a cover-up. Sometimes executives are unwilling to admit flaws even to themselves, fearing that it will lead to re-guessing other decisions. They may know they are breaking a rule but delude themselves into believing that the law does not apply to their situation precisely. They tell themselves that it is consensual. It’s just harmless banter. It will soon be over. Whatever the excuse, they stick to it to avoid expressing self-doubt.

Misjudge Their Opponents

When questionable behavior emerges — even if the problem is a misunderstanding or morally ambiguous, like words being taken out of context — what happens next depends on internal political dynamics and who is on the CEO’s side. However, executives sometimes fail to realize the implications when not everyone pulls them and lets their guard down. But colleagues can be envious. They wonder and whisper and are ready to pounce at just the hint of a slip. Whether they have created a positive and supportive culture for everyone, CEOs can find that flatterers quickly turn into rumors and whistleblowers, eager to fire them.

In short, life is different at the top. Without great personal strength, humility in the use of power, openness, and transparency, top CEOs can forget that the rules apply to them, too. Tragically, sometimes just one bump wipes out a stellar career.

The Holy Qur’an was the first guide for the leader of the Islamic nation, Muhammad — may God’s prayers and peace be upon him. He is a good example of leadership and the art of dealing with people. The Qur’an is replete with many verses that guide the Messenger in various matters of life. Allah says -:

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. [Al-Ahzab: 21]




I like reading and writing about Islam, the business world, work-life balance, and personal development.

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Mohamed, PhD

Mohamed, PhD

I like reading and writing about Islam, the business world, work-life balance, and personal development.

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