Are Managers Perishable Goods?

I am an advocate and persistent supporter of an official, transparent, and honest business model always and everywhere, without exceptions. You might say that this is impossible in the business world and that business inherently involves stepping out of the zone of honesty and innocence. You are probably right, to some extent… The truth is, that anyone focused on profit can be characterized as possessing “dirty money.” However, certain boundaries must still exist. Not everything is black or white. Success does not have to be achieved at any cost. There is always an alternative that can be corrected if we strive to make it so. It is up to us; we actively participate in choices that determine whether something will be good or bad. The way we progress professionally determines whether we will be able to look at ourselves in the mirror or not. We are living beings, people of flesh and blood, eager for success, prone to mistakes or vices, weak, this or that – we are human. It is important to remain so.

Few managers are not susceptible to “spoiling.” Avoiding numerous temptations (and there are indeed many in such a position) and staying true to the right values is rare and a real feat even today. Fortunately, such managers exist, but there are many more who are “unstable and fluid,” easily crossing the line, even if only “with one foot.” The reasons for crossing the line are numerous and varied, mostly personal, and always seem justified and expected to the individual. From “I didn’t know it was like that,” “I had to,” “I was ordered,” “I was blackmailed with my salary,” to “everyone does it,” “it happens every day in Serbia,” “everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t I,” and so on. However, life circumstances should not be an excuse for crossing the line. It is not easy to live in Serbia, that is a fact, but we can at least show by our example what is right and what is not and make things a little better. If everyone demonstrated through their actions that ethics is not just a dead letter on paper, reality would be less morally “polluted.” Everyone, as an individual, has personal responsibility. Accepting “sacrifice” for money and power shows weakness and worthlessness. Of course, this is not exclusively a Serbian story, but unfortunately, it is very present here.

I don’t want my comparisons to give the impression that everything is rotten and corrupt here, and ideal elsewhere, but there are certainly significant differences. Whether the problem lies in people, genetic code, way of life and circumstances, upbringing, and experience is perhaps an idea for a more extensive sociological analysis. I will stick to my experience here. An undeniable fact is that Serbia differs in many ways from Europe, especially in business conduct. I had the opportunity to work abroad and confirm in practice that my view of business manners is not merely a utopia. Simply put, their business functions much differently, and better. The difference between foreign and Serbian managers can be described, for example, through means of communication. It is widely known that Serbs love the phone most because – that way they can say what they want and how they want, without written evidence of what was said, under the pretext that this long-lost form of communication in the civilized business world is faster and more efficient. This is the so-called tele-manager. Opposite him is the digit manager, who has long surpassed phone communication and moved to email correspondence. He is not afraid to leave a written record of a business offer and stands by it. He is not interested in deals, combinations, or “CORP Radio WIIFM” (What’s in it for me). He simply wants a comfortable life without too much thinking. And if you are scheming, your brain must constantly be on alert to come up with new solutions for new challenges. You don’t have a moment of peace. You are actually a slave to your own schemes. And yet, that pride over some “new discovery,” which is material for a new scheme, is not equal to Tesla’s discovery. I have the impression that such people try to take revenge on others because they had some personal trauma, and now they show power and persistently try to outplay the system and push boundaries in their ruthless game. “What a wise man is ashamed of, a fool is proud of.”

Man is a perishable good, so why wouldn’t a manager be? We are all susceptible to it; whether we succumb to the temptation or not depends on us. Whatever position you hold, let your primary title be – human. Because that is the highest you will achieve in life. All others are transient and less important.