Professional Values and Ethics

Through almost all of our formidable years and adult lives we’ve heard the expression “your need to set a good example.” We have heard it from a number of different sources and in a number of different contexts; from our parents who told us we needed to set a good example for our siblings; to our coaches and teammates in competitive athletics who encouraged us to show good sportsmanship; in academics we are held to high standard of integrity in our work product; and in our professional lives we are reminded of our responsibility to lead by example. Why then do so many public figures and social icons do just the opposite? I posit that it happens for one reason only; an insatiable greed for riches, power, or fame.
Over the last few years there have been numerous examples of public figures, political leaders and athletes who have all engaged in conduct that ultimately failed to set a proper example for their posterity, peers or devotees. The Secretary of the Treasury suffered Turbo Tax troubles that cast aspersions on his integrity; Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading; and numerous sports figures were tainted by steroid scandals. One of the most egregious illustrations of setting a bad example however is the $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.
Madoff founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960, which became one of five broker-dealers most closely involved in the development of the Nasdaq Stock Market, and for which Madoff ultimately served as chairman (Associated Press, 2008). According to the Associated Press (2008), “In 2001, Barron's reported that Madoff's firm was one of the three top market makers in Nasdaq stocks and the third-largest firm matching buyers and sellers of securities on the New York Stock Exchange.” These things combined together to give Madoff the credibility needed to attract the clientele that would eventually become “marks” for his Ponzi scheme. At some point Madoff just stopped trading...