The story of a permanent secretary driving around in his old 1.6 Japanese jalopy was legendary. Those were the days of thrift and leading by example. I remember a govt link company CEO was only comfortable with a 2000cc Mercedes Benz. Anything above was seen as flaunting and undesirable. A GM actually got a bollocking when he ordered a 3 litre limousine. That was seen as unbecoming. Thrift and propriety were important values to observe.
The ethos today is quite different. Not only is a 3 litre limousine common, some even flashed around in Lamborghinis and Ferraris. These are things that were frown upon in the good old days. I am not complaining as we have climbed the ladder of economic prosperity and what is a 3 litre car? It is time to enjoy our hard work and our success. Who would dare to announce a $50k cooking class in Paris then?
The ethos of new is to be who you really are. We need to announce that we have arrived. Perhaps it is also a dignity issue. In those days, a permanent secretary’s title is enough dignity to carry a long way. There is no need to show the pay slip and the number of zeros behind. Respect was more easily achieved and earned, and was real. Today, you need to be a billionaire to be respectable, or at least earn a million a year. Just flash it in the face of whoever and there will be instant recognition.
The ethos of the day is always set by the leaders. Monkeys see, monkeys do. Good example and exemplary behaviour at the top will be carried downwards. When the top is senget, you bet the bottom will be too.