"If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked"
This is a bold statement about cause and effect and how it impacts leadership.
This is the Hebrew word masal which means to rule, to reign, to have authority over, management over. The idea is one who is a leader over others. This is not just a low-level leader but one who has leaders under them. So there are at least two levels of an organization to this leadership.
This is the Hebrew word qashab which means to incline, attend to, listen to. It has the idea of paying close attention to or getting the prolonged attention of.
We have had a raft of situations to watch this proverb in action. Major CEO's have been convicted of fraud, corruption, lying, deceiving stockholders and investors, deception, personal profit at the company’s and investors’ expense or loss. In each case it has been the CEO’s direct reports who have done a majority of the work to try and cover up this wickedness. These men and women have all been complicit in the schemes. In almost every case, the CEO’s have blamed the underlings and tried to make the case that they did not know that all this was going on below them. Solomon would say they knew and the only reason that it happened is that the leader was known to favor this kind of thing.
If you have senior associate leaders that are corrupt, then there is a boss who is corrupt every time. This is what Solomon is declaring.
This is the Hebrew word seqer which is the word for lie. It encompasses the ideas of deception, deceit, falsehood.
So the idea here seems to be that if the person with authority in an organization clearly is interested in deception, deceit, hiding their or the company's activities, then all the ministers will have to be complicit and will follow him into wickedness across the Ten Commandment barriers.
This is the Hebrew word sarat which means minister or servant or service. This is the word that is used for a higher-category servant. In this case it seems to refer to those who serve under a leader and accomplish his tasks and program.
If they are corrupt and involved in wickedness, then you know that the ruler has crossed the line of God's boundaries.
In our day and age where we have the opportunity to not hire on or quit working in an organization, we have the opportunity to apply this truth more specifically. If you see either side of this equation being true, then one would need to get out or never get in. It will, over time, affect you to work in an environment where corruption is approved and accepted. It will cause you to eventually accept crossing the lines for your own personal profit. This is not a good place to be. The consequences of God and the society begin to hammer those who dwell in wickedness. It is not the good life that it promises to be.
This is the Hebrew word resa which is wickedness, wrong, guilt. The meaning is those who live on the other side of the Ten Commandments lines. It is not just that they have lied or stolen or used violence or intimidation to get their way or blasphemed. It is that they no longer recognize those means of getting their own way as bad. This is now acceptable practice for them. The lines that apply to everyone else no longer apply to them. They feel that they are immune from these moral constraints. Their actions of selfishness are acceptable and should not be viewed as criminal or evil. Instead – because of their position, their upbringing, their needs, their wants, their family, their abilities, etc – they do not have to respect the moral boundaries that others have to follow. This is a person who will hurt you to get what they want.