It’s still about Fear and Greed


On October 19th 1987, all the hopes and dreams that had been built into a steadily growing investment account for many, was dashed in one dark sullen day with the largest one-day percentage decline in recorded stock market history.  Like the market decline of the recession in the late 2000’s, many of the younger investors had never experienced this type of rapid deterioration in the financial markets. Savvy investors and market watchers from an older generation should not have been surprised, but still, many were caught over invested in a market that could not hold the gains they had enjoyed.

One of the similarities between these 2 market crashes were the answers to the common question of; how could this have happened? It was “fear and greed” they told me back in the 80s. And, it is fear and greed we told them just a few years ago.

Fear and Greed.

It seems the common denominator with investors was both the fear of losing their investments, and the out and out greed to gain more. Both of these behaviors created wild swings in the market when anxiety was heightened because of a major event, or as Malcom Gladwell might describe…a “tipping point”.

In my journey of discovering the Rare Leader™, this concept of fear and greed stayed with me. I came to find these behaviors which control investment decisions, are also prevalent within the workplace controlling individual, and leadership decisions.

In my earlier post regarding the 3 C’s, the concept of surrounding yourself with better, brighter, high potential teammates started with an examination of the Character which grew out of their core. The successful teams I had built, used a  foundation  of “integrity of character”.

When you think of a high integrity of character, what are some of the behaviors you would seek in a new candidate for your Team?

  • humble
  • honest
  • principled
  • wisdom
  • sharing
  • ethics
  • trusting
  • engaging
  • transparent
  • more…

I am not alone in my desire to hire teammates who possess these wonderful traits. But the question I now ask is more of “what happened to integrity of character”? Or, “how did my rising star become such an awful person to be associated with”?

Perhaps it is the older and wiser person in me. To be more specific, it’s the older person in me that has experienced much, and has the ability to look today, at other generations of rising stars who also began their ascent at an early age. Perhaps this climb began while still in their formative years at home within a parental environment. Perhaps the climb began in their eyes when they accepted that 1st job out of college. Either way, there is a transformation of character.

Looking at these generational groups, here is a sampling what I am now troubled to see with some people;

  • College graduates turning down good job offers because the money is too low.
  • Younger workers dissatisfied with their job and quitting because they were assigned to a cubicle instead of an office.
  • Newer employees quitting their job, because they refuse to work for someone else.
  • Contests pitting one worker against another with the winner receiving a promotion, similar to a game show on TV.
  • An exaggeration of the “in crowd” in the workplace.
  • The pressure to be the 1st one in the office, or the last one to leave, to give the impression of an MVP.
  • A disappearance of metrics and accountability, with opportunities, promotions and gains based upon favoritism rather than performance.
  • The cute sign hanging in a garage “he who with the most toys wins” is no longer a joke, but an avocation.
  • The manager who uses team members for their own personal gain.
  • The leader who delegates to a subordinate, but in the end plagiarizes their work with their own name.
  • When “I work for a jerk” is a comment that makes a leader proud of the intimidation and fear used to motivate their team.
  • The attitude of win at all costs for the good of the company mission.
  • Relationships mean nothing if they get in the way of personal gain.
  • Balance in life is 2nd to financial success.

It appears all too common in some settings, that greed has taken over in how we lead, and how we work.  This greed has brought out fear in others, and in response, they too take on their own style of greed to survive.  Yes…Fear and Greed.

It’s still about Fear and Greed.

 So, where do we go from here?

 Am I angry?  Am I too principled?  Am I hopeful? I think the answer to all three is Yes.  But then again, If you think you are a leader, and if you have the competencies and behaviors to be looked up to as a Rare Leader™, then your Integrity of your character will move away from fear and greed as your motivator.  If you care about relationships, you will not lead by greed or fear.  Your inner strength will carry you and your Team beyond the demons created by fear and greed.  And then like me, your outlook for the future will remain clear and bright.

  1. Who rules by fear and greed?
  2. What is your reaction when you sense fear and greed in the workplace?
  3. Where can you practice leading in absence of fear and greed?
  4. When will we see fear and greed take a back seat in leadership?
  5. How will you avoid leading by fear and greed?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.
One Response to It’s still about Fear and Greed
  1. Matthew Dent
    May 18, 2012 | 10:11 am

    what happened to integrity of character? This really stood out and is a great question. We have to surround ourselves with others while working towards a common goal. The question is,”where do they stand when it comes integrity?” Ultimately their actions can not only ruin the reputation of the company but their coworkers or ultimately you. We need to cautious in who we surround ourselves with.

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