Note that the title begins with an indefinite article for there are many roots of evil, but the one most invasive and destructive is America's corpocracy. It is the mother root with two branches that are slowly snuffing out America and the world with it. Those two branches are corporate America and government America. This essay is about the first, corporate America, and specifically, evil corporate leadership, defined here as profoundly immoral, socially irresponsible, and harmfully consequential behavior.
There are many scholarly theories of leadership, but neither a scholar nor theory is needed, just ordinary common sense to define leadership. It is simply "the capacity to control the means to get desired ends." One sentence replaces thousands of pages in dozens of books I have read on the subject. I may have just saved you a lot of unnecessary reading.
Great Corporate Leadership: Where?
If, instead of being evil, corporate leadership were great we could have great corporations. But we don't---let me know if you know of any. A great corporation would be one that uses positive means to achieve positive ends. Another way to put it is that a great corporation would be one that is socially responsible, and no corporation can ever meet all six of my criteria for corporate social responsibility.
Here are the six: A socially responsible corporation: 1. stays financially viable over the long haul; 2. Provides socially beneficial products and/or services without, 3. knowingly causing any physical, psychological, financial or ecological harm, 4. without externalizing costs (e.g., job outsourcing, waste disposal), 5. without seeking or depending on "warfare welfare" or other government favors such as corporate personhood, campaign financing, lobbying, subsidies, revolving doors, laissez-faire regulations, or criminal immunity, and, 6. conducts business ethically and legally while treating all stakeholders fairly and with dignity. If a corporation and its leadership fail to meet any one or more of those criteria they are socially irresponsible. And the fewer they meet the more evil they are.
And all corporations I have ever studied, observed or experienced have flunked one or more of the six. I once followed up on two scholars' separate lists of what they claimed to be 100 some great corporations due to their sustained profits. Their conventional bottom lines were indeed in the black, but these corporations' unconventional bottom lines were indeed in the red, falling below the acceptable line of good corporate behavior as evidenced by the incidents in "The Different Police Gazette" to be shown later in this essay. They ought to tell us that corporate greatness requires far more than just being money deep.
What exactly keeps corporations from being great? After all, they have the capacity, or power, to become great if that were their aspiration and thus their standard of performance. But neither their aspiration nor standard of performance call for being a socially responsible corporation. Fattening their conventional line is their Holy Grail. But that is not a sufficient answer to the question. The conventional bottom line and the primacy given to it are just two of several intrinsic factors preventing corporate greatness. Other intrinsic factors include a hierarchical organizational structure, or pyramid, in which wrongdoing of any kind is orchestrated at and denied by the top while being carried out at the bottom; rewards for "negative" success (i.e., ill begotten success); and, above all, evil leadership. The latter thrives in a pyramid. Here's how it works in a pyramid: