How Corrupt Are You? A Simple Test …

Here’s a ten-question test taken from the new Spirited Reasoner book titled ANATOMY OF CORRUPTION: An Inner Guide for Honest Leaders.  The book is available HERE.

For each question, below, choose the answer that best reflects your personal feelings. Be honest with yourself!

  • You’re in the process of applying for a job. When you think back over the reasons why you chose that potential employer, the following best describes your reasons:
    1. You were extremely interested in this employer’s reputation for honesty and integrity. You were absolutely unwilling to work for someone who might expect you to engage in immoral conduct.
    2. You were somewhat interested in the employer’s reputation for honesty and integrity, but you were far more interested in the advantages of the position itself. Your primary concerns were whether you would enjoy the work and whether you would receive fair compensation for your efforts.
    3. You were not interested in the employer’s reputation for honesty or integrity. You were, however, interested in the advantages of the position itself. Your primary concerns were whether you would enjoy the work and whether you would receive fair compensation for your efforts.
    4. You decided you would accept the position even if you were convinced the employer is engaging in corrupt or dishonest behavior and might ask you to do the same. After all, that’s the way successful businesses must operate these days.
  • You’ve been invited to an important event. Upon your arrival, you notice that your community’s most celebrated movers and shakers are hobnobbing at tables near the speaker’s podium. When you check the seating chart, you discover that your own ticket places you near the back of the room, nowhere near those front tables. You are feeling …
    1. Not at all disappointed. You are more concerned with the actual significance of your work than whether you are viewed as important by other people attending this event. You are confident that one day your time for recognition will come.
    2. Somewhat disappointed. At the very least, you believe your position has earned you a table closer to the front. The organizers of this event should have given the matter more thought.
    3. Disappointed. The quality and importance of your work deserves more recognition than you are receiving. You deserve to be seated at one of the front tables.
    4. Very disappointed. How dare the organizers treat you this way! You are as worthy of public attention as any of the folks seated at the front tables, and in some cases more so. You’ll come up with clever ways to get even with the person who did this to you.
  • You’ve just returned from a business trip and it’s time to present your receipts to your organization’s business office. You proceed as follows:
    1. You are careful to seek reimbursement only for those expenses for which you have accurate and legitimate receipts. You check your totals twice to ensure that you are not asking for too much. When there is a chance that an expense might be considered personal rather than business-related, you treat it as personal and do not seek reimbursement for that item. Far better to pay a few dollars too much than to gain a reputation for cheating your employer!
    2. You are reasonably careful, but not overly attentive, when it comes to presenting your receipts for reimbursement. If you’re missing a receipt or two, that’s okay, because you have a good memory for what you spent. If an expense could be treated as either personal or business, you feel comfortable treating it as a business expense if you can make a good case for it later.
    3. You’re sometimes careless when it comes to receipts, so you find ways to manufacture realistic copies when necessary. When an expense could be considered either business or personal, you find ways to spin your explanation so that your receipt will pass muster as a business expense.
    4. You consider business trips to be a great way to pad your salary, which is, after all, much lower than you deserve. You not only find ingenious ways to make your organization pay for your personal expenses, you even find ways to get reimbursed for expenses you didn’t incur at all.
  • You’ve just been hired by a charismatic boss who makes you feel great. But now you’ve been told that your boss is being investigated by your organization’s internal auditor for possible embezzlement. When the auditor interviews you about your boss’s recent behavior, which course of action would you choose?
    1. You answer each question fully and completely, being careful to always tell the truth.
    2. You remember the importance of loyalty to your boss, and therefore weigh your answers carefully. You tell the truth whenever possible, but you remain silent sometimes, steering clear of saying anything that might get your boss in trouble.
    3. You place greater emphasis on your loyalty to your boss than you do on telling the truth in response to every question, so you sometimes fudge things a bit if you think it might help your boss.
    4. You’re not a fan of investigators, since they’re always raining on someone’s parade. You therefore make sure that everything you say will support your boss, even though most of your answers are less than truthful.
  • Your ship just came in! You’ve been offered the job of your dreams by your organization’s governing board. You’ll be receiving a salary twenty times greater than that of your closest assistant. The timid way in which the salary was presented to you gives you the sense that the board feels cowed by your personality and that it hopes you’ll accept this offer without question. Which of the following best characterizes your feelings at this moment?
    1. You’re frankly concerned because you don’t think the position is worth the lavish salary. You wonder what will happen if the board that hires you feels less than enthusiastic about your performance in a year’s time. You also worry about the feelings of envy or even jealousy that might exist among your lower-paid coworkers. You therefore look for ways to temper the board’s expectations while also looking for ways to support increasing the salaries of your associates. You announce a plan to donate part of your salary to a charitable cause that would benefit your organization’s reputation in the community.
    2. You’re flattered by the attention and plan to make good use of the salary and benefits. But you’re also realistic and understand that your good fortune might not last. You therefore take steps to save as much of your salary as possible for whatever rainy days might lie ahead.
    3. It’s about time someone noticed your achievements! You not only deserve this salary, but you will welcome your next raise when it comes. You plan to take full advantage of what appears to be your board’s weakness when it comes to setting executive salaries.
    4. What an opportunity! You’ve got a hefty offer in hand plus a weak board to boot. Now’s your chance to negotiate an even higher level of salary and benefits. It’s important to strike while the iron is hot.
  • A new employee has been hired in your department with a title identical to yours. This employee appears to be quite attractive, with a powerful résumé to match. Which of the following is most likely to be your reaction?
    1. You feel excited about the opportunity to get to know, or least learn more about, your new coworker. If it turns out that this person is more gifted or talented than you are, those attributes could help the overall performance of the team. It wouldn’t bother you if this person earns promotions faster than you do.
    2. You’re curious about meeting the new employee, and you plan to be supportive initially, but you confess to being a bit concerned about this person’s positive attributes. Might they end up getting a promotion you’ve worked so hard to deserve?
    3. You’re feeling threatened, but you don’t plan to do anything about it. After all, you don’t want anyone to know you’re jealous. You’ll steer clear of the new employee and keep your head down, at least for now.
    4. You’re upset at the boss for bringing in someone whose presence could threaten the size of your next raise and possibly even the security of your job. You therefore plan to look for ways to bring this new employee down a notch in the eyes of everyone in the office, especially those of your boss.
  • You’re the person in charge of buying copy and printer paper at your place of work. One of the local office supply sales reps—we’ll call her “Sale”—makes it a point to treat you to a nice lunch at least once a year. Which of the following is most likely to be your reaction when Sale calls today?
    1. Now that you’ve realized that Sale’s willingness to treat you to lunch is directly tied to your purchases of business office supplies from her company, you plan to avoid those lunches in the future. You also look for ways to institute some sort of bidding system that will ensure your office gets the best deal on office supplies.
    2. Although you realize that Sale is just after your firm’s business, you don’t see anything wrong with the occasional lunches, so long as they don’t sway your purchasing decision. After all, you sometimes buy supplies from other competing companies.
    3. It’s perfectly appropriate for a salesperson to butter up a potential customer, so you don’t see anything wrong with Sale taking you to lunch. After all, you deserve it!
    4. If Sale is willing to buy you a lunch or two every now and then, maybe she’d be willing to do even more. I mean, she’s not really spending her own money. Maybe you could convince her to get her company to foot the bill for your next office party!
  • You’re a book editor for a major publishing company. You’ve been approached by an author whose book describes a “sure cure” for a chronic, often fatal, disease that involves visiting the author’s clinic in a foreign country. The author admits that the cure is bogus, but states that the book is certain to be a bestseller. She even has a lawyer’s opinion letter, promising that the book’s contents are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You agree with both the profit predictions and the legal opinion. Which of the following best describes your feelings at this moment?
    1. You can’t stomach the thought of being part of any enterprise that could exploit people suffering from a potentially fatal disease, so you politely decline to do business with the author.
    2. You feel reluctant to do business with this author, but you’re feeling somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, you don’t like the idea of profiting off the misery of innocent readers. But on the other hand, you’re worried that you could be in trouble from your boss if you miss out on a bestseller. You’ll probably say no to this proposal, but you’re worried that you might regret that decision later.
    3. Although you understand that other people might have a problem with this book, you view readers as adults, who should be allowed to make their own decisions. You’re inclined to say yes to this proposal because, after all, you are an employee of a company that is in business to make a profit.
    4. Are you kidding? Pass up the opportunity to make major bucks on what looks like a sure thing? This one is a no-brainer. As the editor, I would say yes to this deal in a heartbeat and let readers worry about their own morality.
  • You plan to attend an annual conference with a team of your coworkers. When you begin the process of booking your hotel room, you notice that there are several choices available, any of which would be acceptable to you, but some of which are more expensive than others. Before you reach a decision, one of your coworkers informs you that everyone on the team has agreed to stay at the hotel which happens to be the most expensive one on the list. He says everyone is hoping you won’t be a spoil sport. What is your likely reaction?
    1. You respond that you would be uncomfortable staying in the most expensive hotel unless your boss has expressed a preference for everyone to stay there for some business-related reason. Your coworkers might view you as a spoil sport and a goody-goody, but you’re prepared to live with that reputation.
    2. You don’t like the idea of sticking your employer with the tab for an excessive expense that could easily be avoided, but you’re afraid to go against the decision of your coworkers. You therefore find a tactful way to avoid an immediate response, saying that you’ll be making your arrangements soon. You’re hoping to find a quiet way to book a less expensive hotel that is close to theirs without letting them know what you did.
    3. You don’t want to make waves, so you smile and tell your coworker that you’ll make sure to join them. You then file a written note to yourself about the conversation so that you can pretend you were just following orders if anyone in the accounting or auditing department questions your decision later. (You’re hoping you can create the impression that you honestly thought the boss approved it.)
    4. You absolutely have no problem joining the crowd on this one. How often do you get a chance to stay at a luxury hotel on someone else’s nickel? While the business office or internal auditor might have a problem with just one of you staying in an expensive hotel, they’re much less likely to point the finger at you when everyone else is doing it.
  • It took a long time for you to win this plum position, but now you’ve been hired! The reason it took so long (at least in your opinion) is because a certain executive seemed to disagree with the opinions you expressed during business meetings. Now, your promotion means that you outrank that loud-mouthed opponent. During your first week in your new office, as coincidence would have it, a form arrives on your desk, requesting your confidential evaluation of her performance over the past year. What approach are you most likely to take?
    1. Since you admit to having hard feelings about her many open disagreements with you, you bend over backward to ensure that your evaluation is accurate and objective, being careful not to let your feelings blind you to any positive behaviors she might have exhibited. The fact that she often opposed you doesn’t mean she’s a poor performer for the organization. Her contrary viewpoint might be a valuable counterweight to yours.
    2. You do your best to be honest, but you don’t plan to lose any sleep if your performance appraisal of your opponent is unfairly negative at times. After all, she never gave you a break, so why should you give her one?
    3. Since this person was negative toward you in the past, you feel justified in being subjectively negative yourself, now that the shoe is on the other foot. It’s time for her to feel what you’ve had to feel for so long.
    4. This person tried to keep you from moving up. You therefore have an obligation to convince your superiors to get rid of her at the first opportunity, which means that your evaluation will be as cleverly negative as you can make it, without coming across as vindictive. “Don’t get mad, get even,” is your motto.

Scoring: Give yourself one point for each time you answered “1,” two points for each “2,” three points for each “3,” and four points for each “4.” Now total your score for all ten questions.


Fewer than 19 points: We need more leaders like you in responsible positions!

From 20 – 29 points: You’ve got work to do! As you read ANATOMY OF CORRUPTION: An Inner Guide for Honest Leaders, ask yourself whether you could find a way to move your feelings more toward the “1” or “2” response in each case. Hopefully you’ll find that your score will improve after reading it. (There’s another test at the end of the book.)

30 points or higher: Yikes! You really need to read this book. Hopefully you’ll find that your score on the post-test will be much improved.