(CNN) Extremism has a knack for metastasizing and coming back to wreak havoc upon its hosts. Once a cohort or society builds a hateful mindset, the hatred takes on a life of its own. Extremist ideology not only hurts a society’s enemies, but also eventually attacks from within and harms the society from which it originated. I first started observing this phenomenon abroad — and it saddens but does not surprise me that we are starting to see it haunt American democracy too.
Ultimately, what we achieve as corporate leaders, even in the form of social impact, must work hand in hand with how we go about achieving it. How we act along our journeys is at least as important as–if not more so than–the destination. For example, if we are donating a portion of profits to at-need communities, but not being open-minded, respectful, and honest in how we lead in the workplace, we risk undermining our larger goals by contributing to a disrespectful, intolerant, or unethical culture. In fact, a company with no stated social mission that is modeling positive values like integrity and respect may be doing more good for our world than one with a big ESG commitment failing at the basics of kindness.