I have to admit that Netflix’s House of Cards is a fascinating study of unethical behavior that leads to corruption. Frank Underwood’s need for revenge and lack of ethics clearly have paved the way for his criminal behavior. And, I have to admit that the series has fascinated me with its clear purpose of showing the path to destruction. As pointed out in last week’s column, unethical behavior can easily become a part of an individual’s modus operandi.
I read with interest Amy Rees Anderson’s article on passive-aggressive behavior in Forbes magazine, and frankly couldn’t see a difference between what she described and unethical behavior. Anderson’s description of passive aggression mirrors Underwood’s unethical behavior.
» On the surface, the person appears to be agreeable and supportive, but behind the scenes will backstab, undercut and sabotage.
» This person constantly states that you can trust his words when his actions have consistently shown that not to be true.
» He makes promises about things when he has no intention of ever following through, often then blaming things that were “out of his control” for precluding him from being able to fulfill his promise.
» He smiles and agrees with you to your face, but then disagrees or even sabotages things behind your back.
» He states “I was supportive of you, but this other person wasn’t so there is nothing I can do” in order to place blame on someone else rather than voicing his own lack of support for the matter.
» He gives positive praise and feedback to you directly, but then takes actions to undercut you to coworkers and management.
» He withholds important information from other employees to make himself appear more important and more valuable and in an attempt to make others around him fail.
» He uses sarcasm or humor to make fun of someone else so he can hide behind an “I was just kidding” attitude, when really he meant every word.
» Finally, he wants everyone to believe that he is their biggest supporter and advocate, refusing to be honest and direct with his true feelings.
If you are an employee dealing with a manager operating in this manner, bring it to the attention of the chief executive officer. This unethical manager has an agenda, and it’s not one that will be kind to you. Don’t stand by and let it happen. This is a risk for you, but putting your career in the hands of someone you can’t trust is even worse.
If you are honest and respectful in the manner in which you voice your concerns, your thoughts will be welcomed. If you are working under a management that promotes this type of behavior, leave it behind and find a company culture filled with respect and integrity.
Can Unethical Behavior Be Contagious?
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— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjr. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.