There is a gold that is poison. There is a success that destroys. A wise leader will identify its rotting presence and remove it immediately. 

Not all treasure is good. Some of it will defeat you. And for some of leaders, it will be their own fault.

The king who wrote Proverbs taught his son how to recognize this toxic treasure, “Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)

First, notice the king assumes the reader possesses treasure. A poor leader may make that the primary goal. An short-sighted executive will live only for a dollar figure or the image of prestige.  

But the second part of the king’s warning is the Upside Down Business idea — and it should stop a leader in their tracks: Treasures, if gained by wickedness, do not profit.  An unseasoned leader would assume the treasure is the profit, but the wise king knows better.  

How can you as a leader avoid getting treasure by wickedness? Of course, there are obvious kinds of wicked behavior like murder, theft, and outright violent aggression. But for a senior executive in a corner office, those will not likely be fruit of wickedness that tempts you.

Instead,  you should be aware of these 3 subtler types of wickedness.

Some leaders gain treasures by deception: These leaders smirk at the thought of bending a rule or exploiting an unintentional technicality in order to achieve their ends. Do you tell half-truths to your customers? Do you motivate your employees with values and mission statements that mean nothing behind closed doors? Do you take advantage of unethical loopholes to gain an advantage knowing it would be shameful if brought into the light?

Some leaders gain treasures by bullying:  These leaders use abusive words and tactics to get others to perform.
Do you push your employees to sacrifice for you by making promises of a reward they will never get? Do you shame those in your organization when they make mistakes? Do your teams execute out of fear more than joy?

Some leaders gain treasures from laziness:  These leaders would rather keep the status quo than face the growing pains of transition.  Do you fail to use resources at your disposal? Do you reject the creativity, wisdom and opportunities that may be right in front of you because you refuse to embrace the work necessary to make the change? 

Seek treasure. Look for wisdom and find success. But a leader who turns to wickedness in order to get his gold will find his life in ruin.
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
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