Meeting goals meant getting a substantial bonus. It was more important to meet those goals by doing something unethical than to do the right thing. Wells Fargo has been in the news recently regarding top management allowing accounts to be opened without the knowledge of the account holder. As a result, top management received substantial bonuses and customers were left with accounts that they don’t want and distrust for Wells Fargo. There was no concern for the customers, employees or the fact that they were operating unethically.
Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf along with other leaders were well aware of what was going, in fact, they encouraged it. Wells Fargo was focused on goals, goal attainment is connected with leadership and ethics. “Leaders determine the direction of an organization, and there is an evaluative component to setting that agenda; it is either desirable or undesirable.” (PSU) In this case, the agenda was undesirable because it resulted in over 5,000 employees being fired. When the leader is allowing this behavior, employees will follow because they are doing as they are told. In some cases, they don’t even realize that they are doing anything wrong because it is coming from their superiors.
“Toxic leaders are characterized by destructive behaviors such as leaving their followers worse off than they found them, violating the basic human rights of others and playing to their basest fears.” (Northouse, 2016) The leaders at Wells Fargo, fired employees that were doing what they were told to do and they were violating the rights of their customers by opening fraudulent accounts all for their advantage.
“Earlier this month, Wells agreed to pay $185 million in fines and restitution to federal regulators after employees opened about 1.5 million accounts customers didn’t want, and perhaps 500,000 undesired credit cards.” (Dougherty) Although, Wells Fargo is doing to right thing by paying the fines and restitutions, it doesn’t take away the fact that they did these unethical practices and that thousands of low-level employees lost their jobs. And let’s not forget the distrust that the public now has for Wells Fargo.
Pennsylvania State University (2016) Lesson 1: Ethics and Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1791578
Dougherty, Carter. (2016) Wells Fargo Scandal A Setback To Lobbying Efforts By Big Banks http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wells-fargo-lobbying_us_57f50546e4b0325452629c51 retrieved on 10/5/16
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE