The man who did six years in jail for looting $100m from security-systems group Tyco International may have shed light on the spate of corporate scandals involving the likes of Steinhoff, KPMG, McKinsey and SAP in SA over the past few months. "We believed our own press … myself and others – even the board," said Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco’s former DEO and chairman. "You become consumed … by your own arrogance and you really think you can do anything." Kozlowski’s comments highlight the intoxicating effect of power and the sense of invincibility to which people at the top of large organisations can be susceptible, allowing their impulses to run wild and resulting in them taking catastrophic decisions. The danger of arrogant and corrupt leadership is facilitated by submissive following – when employees of organisations remain silent and uncritical in the face of unethical decisions and behaviour. In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki compares the dangers of blindly following...

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