Why is Authority Still Self-Policing Itself, Often Without Oversight and Consequences

Reputation Specialist Essays
3 min readMar 5, 2021


Self-policing might work for ethical people and organizations yet how trustworthy and reliable is it when healthy character and ethics are missing?

The following question within a headline caught my attention: Should the military continue to be allowed to police itself on sexual assault? Retired general and Pentagon weigh in

The following essay is not about the specifics of that case (although it is an interesting, important story). Instead, it is is about what we can learn, the risks present and what we could be considering as a wiser alternative.

Here’s what self-policing doesn’t accomplish:

It doesn’t inspire trust and credibility in those who have no “say” or power when problems arise or continue. It doesn’t make it easy to slow, stop or correct problems. It doesn’t protect those with little to no authority or power.

It also doesn’t hold those in power accountable when they can bend or break rules and overlook and enable misconduct. More on this later.

Yet self-policing continues as a ruse that it is somehow what is best, professional, honest and helpful.

What is the lesson learned repeatedly in society, from experience or observation? Yet why then is so little done in response to implement a better way and improve?

What we see or experience instead are organizational and leadership cultures devoid of doing the right thing and focused much more on impression management and self interest. When this happens — and it does often — where there is a lack of quality character in authority and power, what and who can really be trusted?

Doesn’t this structure and combination of weaknesses work?

How is arrogance, poor emotional intelligence and abuse of power leading to intimidation and control, playing loose with facts and truth, discrediting others, implementing punishments to discourage those who speak up or whistle blow and more frequent cover ups, a net positive?

It would seem this is not the risk management that self-policing intends to be in practice. It would seem to be the opposite. Yet blind spots prevent the reality from being recognized, understood and corrected.

What results is the strong probability of significantly increased levels of risk, scandal and crisis, causing harm not only to people who must trust or believe in those self-policing, and who suffer, but also to those whom abuse that authority and power.

It makes sense then, this essay argues, that those organizations and leaders self-policing most benefit themselves in relationship quality, effectiveness, name, reputation, and career and financial security by moving away from the conflict of interest that is self-policing as an organizational structure to much needed and wise oversight and objective and strong outside governance.

This requires humility, poise, greater character, strength of self control and honorable ethics yet acts as superior insurance, risk management, reputation safety and professional and personal protection, than the false sense of security of self-policing.

Michael Toebe is a specialist who helps individuals and organizations with further building, protecting, restoring or reconstructing reputation. He is the founder of Reputation-Quality.com, Reputation-Interviews.com, RQCalls.com and QSR-Guide.com and author of “Your Reputation Signature: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Protect, Restore and Reconstruct It,” available on Amazon.

(Story image courtesy of Pixabay)



Reputation Specialist Essays

Michael Toebe is the founder and specialist at Reputation Quality, a consultancy, advisory, coaching and communications services practice.