Leader Trends: Do We Encourage Cheating?

By | February 13, 2019

[February 13, 2019]  The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York has an honor code1 that goes back to its founding in 1802.  It reads, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.”  However today, cheating is not only encouraged, but anyone who doesn’t cheat is considered old-fashioned and obsessive.

“I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” – Sophocles, Greek tragedy writer

Our modern world is highly secular.  The values of old – those values that made humans worthy and good – are fading.  Nobody trusts anyone anymore.  Some psychologists are saying this leader trend is not a misstep but a feature of our age.  Wherever we look, there are lying politicians, crooked bankers, corrupt businessmen, cheating journalists, and a double-dealing media.

The reason we see cheating being encouraged is simple.  The premise that we should not cheat is as old as humans have walked the Earth.  But now, cheating is tolerated to the point that we accept it as a satisfactory way of carrying out our lives.

Cheating on your spouse is now passé (there are television shows on it).  Cheating in school is predictable and rarely punished.  Cheating in sports is now part of the game.  Professional wrestler, Eddie Guerrero, was honest when he said that if you’re not cheating [in sports], you’re “not trying.”

As our society becomes more complex, cheating will grow to be progressively easier.  It will also become harder to stop.  As long as our traditional values begin to diminish, cheating will become more accepted and encouraged.

The end product of cheating is the breakdown of trust and confidence in one another.  It sabotages trust and weakens the bonds of our human spirit and humanity; without which we perish.  Psychologist, Dr. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto said when discussing cheating that we, as a society, had better watch out because the result will be bad for us all.

Cheating, however, is not the American way.  And, it is not the way of any Western society that built on Judeo-Christian values.  Our most senior leaders can begin to lead the way by calling it out and explaining why cheating is a failed method of getting what we want in life.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadet_Honor_Code
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “Leader Trends: Do We Encourage Cheating?

    1. Andrew Dooley

      I got a great laugh out of the video with the little dog being chased by sheep. Thank you Terri for making my day.

  1. Darryl Sitterly

    If you regularly cheat at anything in life, you have a serious problem. Nuff said. Thanks!

  2. José Luis Rodriguez

    Are you the chump? In the winner-take-all environment that characterizes many competitive fields, cheating feels like a hedge against that most degrading sensation: being a chump.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Yes, so true. And we’ve done nothing to deter others from doing so. Well said, Jose.

  3. Willie Shrumburger

    That is, low-level cheating may be natural and even productive in some situations; the brain naturally seeks useful shortcuts.

  4. Wilson Cox

    I have found that some cultures allow cheating. I won’t mention any here because its not politically correct. I find that some religions allow cheating on a spouse and it is not only ignored but in many cases it is encouraged. Likewise, the swinging married couple scene of the non-religious folks has not turned out very well for all involved.

  5. Joe the Aussie

    Wow, nicely written. Love the article. Please keep up the great work, Gen. Satterfield. Cheers!

  6. Kenny Foster

    Let’s hope that bringing up this topic will be helpful. I know many think of us as a bunch of tightwads who have nothing better to do than complain about the behavior of others. They think we don’t know much. However, when a society allows distrust to grown (like when cheating is okay), then that society is beginning to slide downward.

    1. Jerry C. Jones

      Spot on. Thanks Kenny. Yes, that is a slippery slope to destruction.

  7. Greg Heyman

    I agree that cheating is one of those vices that should be stamped down as much as possible. Just like the West Point example mentioned in this article, cheating does no one any good in the long term.

  8. Joe Omerrod

    My best friend John S. never really cared about grades in school and thus never had any inclination to cheat on school tests or papers. I understand that it is common today and little is done to discourage it. If caught, there is usually no penalty. So, the message is clear; cheating is okay, just don’t make it known to everyone. To me, if you can’t discuss a problem openly, then you have a problem more series than you might think.

  9. AutisticTechie

    Good article again, General Satterfield. Keep up this series on recent trends in leadership. At least keep up the trends that are not good for us. 😊

    1. lydia truman

      I agree. Great article that I gave to my son to read. He got himself in trouble at school for using a plagiarized ‘research’ paper that he had to write. Why he did it is unknown to me. He had the time and the smarts to write it. When I asked him, he admitted that everyone was doing it and “no big deal.” Well, it is a big deal and now he’s grounded for the next month.

  10. Janna Faulkner

    If you search the Internet for “cheating” you will get a bunch of articles on spouses cheating. These are, of course, about relationships and although different than discussed here in this article, it nonetheless has the same idea. Cheating destroys trust. It is one of the most destructive activities us humans can engage. No surprise that so much is written about it.

  11. Martin Shiell

    I love your series on ‘Leader Trends.’ They are exceptionally informative and worth seeing what the real problems are in the ranks of leaders.

  12. Army Captain

    Another great article and this time on one of my personal pet peeves. Cheating diminishes the soul and should be discouraged, not encouraged.

  13. Fred Weber

    People seem to be wired in their brains to cheat. So is cheating inborn?

    1. Lady Hawk

      My question is how can you live with yourself if you achieve things without doing the work required? Go figure … some people have no idea what they are doing or the long-term impact.

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