Category Archives: Envy

Leading people



Today I was reading a blog on how we should lead with compassion and not authority. Our goal should be development of our team/subordinates.It led me thinking how peculiar work environment in public sector enterpirse (PSE), the type of organisation where I work, is better suited for this kind of leadership.

As we say, there are 1-2 typical things about a PSE.

-Horses and donkeys, meaning smart-workers and shirkers get equal treatment. Smart workers don’t get any special facilities, nor do shirkers get any punishment.

-Pays and perks are exactly the same, irrespective of the amount of work you put in.

-Promotions are time-bound. What matters more at senior levels is your connections etc. So a mediocre executive with networking skills has as good chances of promotion as an excellent executive.

-Transfers are also for those not well connected.

Now if you consider these and other factors, I don’t have much to motivate me. And it’s any fool’s guess that the same applies to my juniors.

So what do we do, keep working like machines without any aspirations, hopes, expectations, just rewards and all that.

NO, that is where the first line of this post comes. These conditions or obstacles which seem hampering growth, can be converted to opportunities.

If I don’t play politics knowing well that it hardly matters either way. If I don’t go running around grabbing credit for junior”s work  knowing that it matters not. If I don’t suck up to seniors instead I work sincerely for mental peace. If I am not egoistic, don’t throw my weight around, literally and otherwise, don’t treat juniors as machines and  tools, then I may already have made a good start.

Let me put it in other words. By doing all this, I will be motivating myself by getting the real happiness of developing and mentoring  my juniors, and my juniors will be hopefully happy to have a really caring and different boss.

Had I been in a private firm with cut-throat competition, backbiting, backstabbing, ratrace and all that, you can’t be a genuine caring and sincere boss. Unless ofcourse in C-suite.

I am saying this and will try to practice it now that I know its true worth. But irony is today only unwittingly I did the reverse. Actually ever since my appraisal rating has been downgraded, I have been a little bit edgy or maybe confused. Today happy was showing final proof of inhouse magazine to boss, and without being sure of it (though I had an inkling that she might be in doing that, and I hesitated also for a second, before entering boss’ room. Had it been pre-downgrading I would have not gone in even if I had 10 % inkling, as I would have wanted her to take credit for the job we did together). But I went in. Moreover while boss was perusing the magazine, I butted in at places. She did not seem to mind overtly at least. But I felt bad at my un-me behaviour. So, note to myself to avoid this in future.

Let me see if I can maintain this.


Confusing Bosses


This has happened to me many a times and this week this happened with another colleague of mine. He had got some design approved by our boss 2 months ago. The design was approved verbally, so there was no proof as such, but normally that is how it is. On the basis of that approval, the agency made several pages running into hundreds. And suddenly one day this week, the boss while reviewing the final version said she does not like the design. When colleague politely submitted that he had got it approved. Boss did not budge. We were discussing later how such a situation arises many times between boss and junior. I think this must be happening to many of you too. The net result always seems to be cliched-boss is always right. You end up adjusting to this but you do get demotivated.

At times, seniors will thoroughly check the final version and once there is any lapse they will say, I just had a look, you were supposed to check in detail. But if things are smooth, they will run to grab the credit. I do agree that senior/boss is not supposed to check and micro manage but then what is the point of checking. However you can’t say that to their face.

My ex-boss was showing some media queries to CEO. An earlier draft of these replies was shown to CEO by my present boss. In both the cases drafts had been made by me. When boss came back after meeting CEO, he told me-Did you not check the replies thoroughly, CEO wants the replies in a different manner. Here again, boss had checked and edited the replies but I could not say that. Aniways there was no factual error, but CEO wanted some additional figures to be given. I added, boss checked and gave to CEO office and left for the day. My ex-boss who is in CEO office again got some changes done and showed it to CEO. He came out with minor changes and asked- How does CEO know that you made the earlier replies. I was taken aback. I guessed and told- there were some data missing in earlier replies so when boss showed to CEO and CEO pointed out, boss might have   mentioned my name that he erred, to put blame on me. Ex-boss, who is otherwise very anti-present-boss and politicking always suddenly jumped to his side and said- No no, your present boss is not like this, he will not backbite, he might have mentioned in passing. Even I was surprized as at CEO level, bosses can not shirk responsibility by taking junior’s name. So here also boss and ex-boss confused me. I did not pester ex-boss much as to how CEO told my name in what context. Because this ex-boss has this habit of using CEO name to motivate me. After a while when I got to know of his lies, this trick stopped working for me though.

Coming back to present boss, for last 2-3 days, he has been very temperamental. Normally he is very kool and chilled-out. But day before, he shouted at me for a small thing, and repeated the same thing yesterday and today also. And you know I don’t like shouting bosses and people. Let us see if he makes it a habit.

This is the same boss who downgraded my appraisal rating and gave my happy friend (only person in department with whose better rating I was rather happy not hurt, though last time both of us got best and equal rating. ) better rating than me.  Then he asked me to sit till 9 pm to give a reply. How can be bosses so careless and demanding if they don’t think you are best quality material. So I tried to think of many reasons why I was given lower rating and one reason I could think of was boss wanted to empower women, and encourage youngsters. But then boss should expect and ask more from the best performers, specially the monotonous and overtime, late-sitting jobs. Maybe I am at fault somewhere, as I don’t crib and shout as others do. When will I Learn? Moreover, I am now taking extra precaution with my happy friend that she should not feel I am upset because she got better rating. I am not upset with her rating, I am upset with mine, and there is a difference. But as I told her I am careful as I am caring towards her. I don’t want her to think even for a second that I am envious or jealous or angry with her, which I am not. Hope I succeed.

Envy by Gurcharan Das


Envy can be positive also. It is possible for the envier to want something but without wishing the envied to lose it at the same time. This positive sort of envy that my father alluded to leads to ambition, to want to emulate the successful, but without the malicious desire to deprive the rival of the possession. This is called benign or emulative envy and it is the one on display when one says to a friend- I envy you for such and suck skill. One obviously does not want to deprive the friend of the talent or the skill. Nor is one filled with pain in the case of benign envy.

Mahabharata, the Indian epic, says- The man who envies other people for their conduct, beauty, courage, family lineage, happiness, success and favour has an eternal sickness.

Gore Vidal says- Whenever a friend succeeds a little, something in me dies.

John Rawls, Harvard teacher explains general envy as which does not have a particular person or its object (which is special envy), and is experienced by the less advantaged for those better situated.

The reason academic politics are so bitter is that so little is at stake, Henry Kissinger was fond of saying.

Envy also supplies the psychological foundations for our quest for justice, especially for equality. And this too can take both good and bad forms. Freud wrote that our desire for justice is the product of childhood envy of other children, which makes one hunger for equal treatment and brings about a group-spirit. He adds- If one cannot be the favourite oneself, at all events nobody else shall be the favourite.

Envy is thus a leveler, and it levels downwards. Instead of motivating one to better performance, envy prefers to see the other person fall. The envious person is willing to see both sides lose. Envy is collectively disadvantageous, the individual who envies another is prepared  to do things that make them both worse off, if only the discrepancy between them is sufficiently reduced. To avoid this sort of calamitous result, a just and sensible society ought to do something in order to mitigate if not prevent the conditions that bring about envy. Plurality of voluntary associations like churches, clubs, unions and other groupings, in a well-ordered society, each with its own secure internal life, tends to reduce the visibility, or at least the painful visibility, of variations in men’s prospects.  (John Rawls)

Nietzsche thought the French Revolution was fired by the sentiment of envy of the masses against the classes. Sometimes resentment over social inequality is so great that it wounds one’s self-respect. Such envy is understandable especially when it is exacerbated by ostentatious display by the well-off. It tends to demean the situation of those who have less. Although it is a psychological state, social institutions can and ought to mitigate such envy.

I had a conversation with an employee of the scandal-ridden  Satyam, an Indian company. She said that she and many of her colleagues at Satyam continued to support B.Ramalinga Raju, the disgraced founder of their company, even after his fraud was exposed. It was only after she discovered that the IT czar owned a thousand designer suits, 321 pairs of shoes and 310 belts that she turned against him. When I was burning the midnight oil, he was buying belts- she raged.

To be fair to leftists, what drives many of them is not envy but resentment, a different moral idea. Many socialists do not suffer from envy, but they resent the inherently unjust distribution of income and power in our social arrangements. What upsets them is not those who are better off. Resentment in this sense is a rational and impersonal moral emotion, which can also drive one to change the world for the better.

Envy is all-pervasive and hence the proverb. –If envy were a fever the whole world would be ill.

From- The difficulty of being good by Gurcharan Das.