African Proverb and Compliance Leadership

(By Joe Koletar) An old African proverb goes, “If you wish to travel quickly, go alone. If you wish to travel far, go together.”

There is much wisdom reflected in two simple sentences.

The challenge of a leader is not so much to have a vision. It is the ability – leadership – to get others to accept and follow that vision.

This is the essential challenge we face today in the realm of compliance. The voice in the wilderness is often a lonely one. The effective voice can lead people, nations, industries, and professions.

Why do some succeed, and some fail?

It is a function of the style of leadership. No two are exactly alike, but those that are successful seem to have one thing in common.

In 1967 I was a young Army Officer, and completed the Infantry Officers’ Basic Course at Ft. Benning, Georgia. One thing was drummed into our heads, over and over, in different ways:

• “Never ask your men to do something you would not do.”

• “An officer only eats after his men have eaten.”

• “An officer only sleeps after his men have slept.”

It is called Leadership By Example.

Although each person has their own style, the principle remains constant.

Words from on high are nothing but words unless they are followed and lived, and that starts at the top. “Enron” is a great example of hollow words. Unfortunately, there are many others.

When we will ever learn the simple truths of the Africans and the U.S. Army?

Being a leader has many benefits – money, power, and prestige. But it also has many demands. Combined, those demands seem to say, “Hold yourself to a higher standard.” Too often that standard seems to fall by the wayside.

Will we ever learn the proverb of the ancient Romans?

“Sic transit gloria mundi.” (“Thus passes the glory of the world.”)

We have guidance before us. It comes through the centuries. From the Africans, Romans, and the U.S. Army.

The guidance is not the issue. It is sound. The issue is when (if) we listen to it.

To quote a lyric from an old anti-war song: “When will they ever learn?”

Join us for more insights into behavioral forensics (behind fraud and similar white collar crimes) from the authors of ABCs of Behavioral Forensics (Wiley, 2013): Sri Ramamoorti, Ph. D., Daven Morrison, M.D., and Joe Koletar, D.P.A., along with Vic Hartman, J.D.  These distinguished experts come from the disciplines of psychology, medicine, accounting, law, and law enforcement to explain and prevent fraud.  Because we are inspired to bring to light and address the fraud problems in today’s headlines, we encourage our readers to come back and revisit us regularly at

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