Wealth is Not a Sign of Good Leadership

A friend said something to me recently that keeps ringing in my ears: “Wealth is not a sign of good leadership.” She’s right. Let’s look at CEOs of companies who are usually wealthy and considered the leaders of their organizations. Instead of being a good leader, it’s more likely they’re a psychopath because roughly 4% to as high as 12% of CEOs exhibit psychopathic traits, studies find. That’s many times more than the 1% rate found in the general population and more in line with the 15% rate found in prisons, according to Forbes.

A psychopath lacks empathy and doesn’t care about the consequences of their actions. They are typically very charming but they don’t care about hurting other people. They will do what they need to do to accumulate more wealth and power. In the U.S. and other countries, we reward this sort of behavior. There is no check on the amount of wealth one person can accumulate and we let the extremely wealthy do whatever they want under the guise of “freedom” and “choice.”

Elon Musk and Twitter is a perfect example. Within a few weeks, he managed to destroy a social media platform used by people all over the world. Not only are artists, activists, and others scrambling to change their operating mechanisms, but now thousands of people are without a job because they were laid off or resigned in response to Musk’s ultimatum. He said if people want to keep working at Twitter, they need to be “extremely hardcore” and that means “working long hours at high intensity,” according to the Washington Post.

businessman holding a newspaper

Wealth doesn’t translate into leadership. Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

In response, people left Twitter in droves. Whatever Musk is – a narcissist, a psychopath, or a sociopath – it’s clear to me he lacks empathy for others because if he actually cared about the people working for him, he would want to promote a positive working environment that takes into account that people have lives outside the office. He didn’t do that. He only cares about his vision and what he wants. He doesn’t know how to lead or inspire people to work for him. All he really has is wealth and a desire for exploitation, which is the opposite of a leader, according to my spiritual teacher. He said:

“The function of a [leader] shall, therefore, be to see that the dominating or the ruling classes do not have any scope for exploitation … The moment one class turns into exploiters, the life of the majority becomes miserable; a few enjoy at the cost of many whose lot is only to suffer. More than that, in such a state of society both the few and the many get degenerated. The few (exploiters) degenerate themselves due to [an] excess of physical enjoyments, and the many (exploited) cannot elevate themselves, because all their energy is taken up in mundane problems …. Hence, for the physical, mental, and spiritual welfare of the administrator and the administered of the society as a whole, it is essential that no one is given any scope to exploit the rest of the society.”

We clearly don’t have that because these days, exploitation is encouraged. What’s the solution? One of my friends says “more governance,” but that doesn’t work with our current politicians because many of them also show psychopathic and sociopathic traits. What we really need is a complete overhaul of our power structures. We need people in power who are actually leaders, not in the sense they inspire followers because hi, just look at cults. No. What we need is people who want to curb exploitation. People who actually care about others. People who understand the repercussions of their actions and aren’t only looking out for themselves. I see some of that already but I hope I see more of it soon.

I dream of a world where we recognize wealth is not a sign of good leadership. A world where we understand true leaders think about others and show care for everyone. A world where we recognize leaders should hinder exploitation because they value the upliftment of all.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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