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Pt. 18 of 18. Trust, leadership lessons from organised crime

For the good of society – 18 leadership lessons from organised crime


In Part 1, “Ambition” we set the scene.

According to Interpol, the UN and WTO the organised crime industry is one of the worlds largest with quantifiable revenues of at least $3 Trillion per year and despite trillions of dollars worth of investment to counter act their growth the industry is growing faster than ever leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

In a world first we reveal how Syndicates, some of whose annual revenues top $200 Billion use influence, resources, technology and vision to build global empires and translate it into a business language that philanthropists can use to build prosperous companies that can help repair some of the societal damage by creating new jobs, simplifying international expansion, building engaged workforces and creating new, selfless collaborative cultures.

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During our investigation we uncovered 18 categories, to read them just click on the link below:

  1. Ambition
  2. Customer Service
  3. Bribery and Corruption
  4. Devolved decision making
  5. External Problem Resolution
  6. Internal Problem Resolution
  7. Local Touch
  8. The Lean Team
  9. Consistency
  10. Loyalty
  11. Perks
  12. Disruptive Innovation
  13. The Flight to Favourable Jurisdictions
  14. React to Real Time Events
  15. Process as the Enemy
  16. Spying on the Competition
  17. Emigres Clusters
  18. Trust, Faith and Openness


(18) Trust, Faith and Openness

What this means to the Shadow Industry

Disillusionment and dissatisfaction create disconnected employees and disconnected employees work with less vigor and less passion culminating in poor quality, disaffected customers and reducing revenues all of which put organisations at risk

Employees mentally and emotionally connect with their organisations in many ways. While many people believe that Trust, Faith and Openness are irrespirable bed fellows and that one can’t exist without the other they are all distinctly separate values. While it’s true that when they’re intertwined together the resulting feelings and commitments are stronger than they otherwise would be when the sun sinks below the horizon at the end of the working day each of these values is indelibly personal and meaningful to the individual and unfortunately this is where many of the dichotomies appear.

Individuals Trust their employers with their families lifestyles and livelihoods, they want to have Faith that they won’t unexpectedly be thrown to the wolves when business takes a downturn and they want to believe that their employers respect them enough to be Open with them in both the good times and the bad times. Similarly many individuals believe, or want to believe that their leaders are working with their best interests at heart but in reality some of these leaders are handsomely enumerated to focus exclusively on the interests of the organisation which isn’t the same as putting the individual interests of their employees first.

Under normal circumstances a disconnected individual will eventually decide to leave and work for another organisation taking valuable knowledge with them but the shadow industry isn’t a normal industry. In this industry they may not simply leave, or defect if you prefer to use that term, they may turn and that is a much more dangerous prospect. In an industry where there are few rules and even fewer ethics disconnected employees have the individual freedom to create their next roles. Informant, Infiltrator, Double Agent and Assassin, there are no limit to the roles they can choose, no limit to the amount of destruction, damage or death they can rain down on the syndicate and their crews and this has given the shadow industry a powerful motivation to do their utmost to keep their employees suitably committed.

Perfidy is one of the shadow industries most insidious enemies and syndicates have developed three strategies that help safeguard them against disloyal behaviour, reduce the possibility of betrayal, increase the cost of betrayal and build trust. Used in depth these measures have proven devastatingly effective, helping to intensify the Soldatos and Caporegimes Faith in both each other and the organisation and helping syndicates grow at a furious pace. In the meantime Openness, which has different degrees of opacity depending on where you sit within an organisation is an interesting oxymoron, particularly when applied to the shadow industry. Often seen as an integral component of establishing Trust it’s long been a source of pain for many of the syndicates who try to balance the benign benefits that Openness brings with the need to obfuscate the details of their operations but they commonly manage to manoeuver around the issues by carefully setting out the right expectations and by operating policies of transparency vertically along each line of business so that one line of business doesn’t know the details of the next. 


Pt. 7 of 18. Local touch, leadership lessons from organised crime


What this means to legitimate industries

Today it’s a well established fact – because 78% of CEO’s say it is, that employees are an organisations most valuable assets – more important than their facilities, more important than their ICT systems and more important than their shareholders… sorry, scrub the last one that’s not true. Anyway, employees are certainly on the list of the CEO’s priorities.

Over the decades results have shown that organisations who truly value their employees, and demonstrate it every day are, on average 20 to 30% more successful than those who don’t so given this evidence why is it that so many organisations, sometimes unintentionally, treat their employees with so much disrespect?

We’ve chosen the word carefully and for those CEO’s among you reading this paper no doubt many of you will feel some ire towards that statement so let’s look at it closer and, as they say, work through some examples.

First we have to remember that our employees are not “employees”, they are husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, relatives and friends and as such they all have their own set of individual circumstances and lifestyles. It’s probably fair to say that the great majority of people go to work because they need to earn a wage rather than because they want to work but admittedly there are a few among us who love what we do and being paid for the privilege of doing it just sweetens the experience. Bearing this in mind it’s no wonder then that people’s lifestyles, and often their emotional happiness, are closely tied to their ability to earn so if an organisation puts those earnings at risk then the ripple effects can be quick, dramatic and long lasting so imagine the feelings that someone would encounter working for an organisation that put shareholder value first – your job, your career and your lifestyle is at the whim of the share price. If the share price does well then you’re safe, relatively speaking, but if it falls as many of them have been recently then it’s time for you to begin looking over your shoulder.

When an organisations revenues and profits begin to stall or decline the share price inevitably dips and unless the CEO, whose remuneration will be tied to hitting particular EPS targets, can reverse the decline in three quarters or less then what happens next will be a mix of text book Structural Reorganization and, or Divestments and both of these mean redundancies.

People are realists. They know that when times get hard jobs are on the line and this creates nervousness around the organisation but they expect their leaders to act with tact, compassion and honesty so when leadership teams behave insensitively, evade direct questions and fabricate falsehoods employees rapidly loose trust in them then rumours abound, performance suffers and the decline accelerates. Everybody loses. Unfortunately there are far too many examples of organisations whose leadership teams have acted either insensitively, disrespectfully, or both, treating their employees like numbers on a balance sheet without thinking about the implications their actions or ill conceived communiques will have on the wider culture of their organisation. Take, for example, the Fortune 100 company who told 50,000 employees that their jobs were all at risk two weeks before Christmas but forgot to wish them all a Happy Christmas, or the Fortune 50 company that swore that they weren’t in negotiations to sell off one of their prime business units even though they’d told people in their operations center that they were all going to be transferred to another company. Given the fact that many organisations are serial abusers how much trust would you put in your leadership team if you knew they were acting in their own self serving interests? In both these examples only 48% and 51% of employees respectively would recommend their company to a friend – in other words 52% and 49% wouldn’t and given the total employee account for both these companies that means that over 375,000 people wouldn’t recommend them. That’s a lot of people…

There are many ways that employees can lose faith in their organisation, their colleagues or their leadership team and organisations that excel at employee relations do so because they are focused, committed and caring but sometimes even the best organisations have problems that are out of their control and no organisation is ever problem free. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to become disaffected and their attitude can ripple across an organisation like ripples across a pond. Some of those people who set out to sabotage and damage your organisation, such as Edward Snowden, may do so because they find something morally irreprehensible while others, who may have been passed over for promotion may spread gossip and rumour which begin eating away at your cultural foundations.


Honesty, Integrity and Respect should be the cornerstone of your employee strategy but leadership teams often get too focused on the organisations mission and forget that they have a duty of care to the people who walk through the doors every morning. Treated well your employees can be your organisations greatest asset and turn a mediocre organisation into a great one but treated dismissively as assets on a balance sheet you’ll soon find that your rotting your organisations own foundations.

The key takeaways are:

  • Show employees how you balance your commitments with their welfare
  • Always act with integrity and treat employees with care and respect
  • Treat every employee as an individual
  • Go the extra mile


For those of you who have stuck with us through this series thank you and now we’re headed back to the future…

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