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Intriguing Questions From Volkswagen Cheating Scandal

While many questions surrounding the Volkswagen emissions test cheating scandal have been answered, many more still remain unclear. And while Volkswagen has been assessed or agreed to pay over $24B in fines, penalties, and compensatory payments to car owners, the VW cheating scandal is far from over. In fact, the repercussions from this new benchmark in deliberate corporate malfeasance will continue for years to come.

The questions that deeply intrigued me throughout the 17 months of my research into the Volkswagen cheating scandal are the ones leaders across all organizations should be asking, and then modifying as necessary to apply to their own organizations. These questions center on the corporate culture, governance, and leadership styles that led to this massive and deliberate corporate wrongdoing.

Why did no one in Volkswagen voice concerns that the damage to the environment, and to the health of fellow humans, are critical concerns worth considering?

Did anyone ever ask if the potential damage to the Volkswagen brand image and corporate reputation was worth risking if the company was caught installing the emissions test cheating defeat device software?

How could those involved maintain the cheat device software deception over 8 years while so cold-heartedly and callously dismissing the impact of this cheating on public health and the environment?

Where were the internal voices of conscience and realism that should have spoken up and expressed their ethical and moral concerns? Was the Volkswagen workplace totally devoid of employees who take into consideration the health of fellow human beings?

Is the engineering staff at Volkswagen so amoral that there was no individual or collective concern for the air pollutants their products would be emitting? Or did job security concerns overrule all other individual morals, ethics, and accountability standards?

And while these and many other questions remain unanswered, many lessons can already be extracted from the turmoil created by this scandal. These are the lessons for leaders that I cover in Leadership Lessons from the Volkswagen Saga, which is available globally on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

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