Many of us in the corporate world would have been taught, through reading and through lectures that jealousy and envy, kill those who feel jealous – rather than those who are the target of the jealousy. Therefore, most mature individuals, who believe in spirituality and in humanity, will try to minimise their indulgence in jealousy, because it kills the one who is jealous rather than the target of jealousy.
The target of jealousy may not even be aware of the jealousy that surrounds him /her.
There is the case of a managing director (MD) of a multinational, 40 years ago, who refused to recruit MBAs from top management institutes into the company because “they think no end of themselves” or that “they think they know everything”, although they were qualified young men and women.
What was colouring his mind was the fact that he was a BSc in botany with a pass-class grade – and had risen from salesman to MD through hard work combined with a mastery in corporate politics. He was just jealous of this well-qualified breed!
There was another case of an MD, who did reluctantly recruit an MBA from a leading institute on the prodding of his marketing head, and the young man had to leave within two years of his joining, because the MD thought he was “too smart
”. This story has been told elsewhere in this series
There is the case of a young bright senior executive, who got married to a charming young woman, from a wealthy family of doctors. When the news of the engagement was announced, everyone congratulated Ravi. Good choice – well matched – lucky couple – were the many comments.
But the MD of the company, to whom Ravi reported (though seeming to be pleased), was really not so happy. He was jealous.
The MD himself had married the daughter of the widowed landlady, where he had rented a room as a paying guest when he was a junior manager. They fell in love and married. Surely, they seemed a happy couple.
But that did not prevent him from being jealous of this young man “who seems to have everything!”
Ravi did not realise this until a year later, when they were at a conference in Chennai, and a small group had gone out to dinner. They passed a large show room for silk sarees (the kind Chennai is famous for) – and the MD spontaneously told Ravi to buy some for his wife.” “No sir– they are much too expensive.”
And the MD promptly blurted out “Don’t worry. For the fees of four surgical operations for your father-in-law – and you could get eight sarees or more.”
It was then that Ravi realised that the boss was silently harboring this jealousy- and it was revealed in an unguarded moment.
There is also sometimes a reverse situation, where jealousy is invited!
Take the case of the MD of a consumer products company, who had a son and a daughter. They were average students, just managing to get by every year through school.
The senior vice-president (VP) had two sons—both of whom were brilliant in studies. All four went to the same school in south Mumbai.
Every year after the results, the VP would make it a point to ask his boss how the children had fared (even though I am sure he already knew). The MD had to admit that they had a colourless record—but they had been promoted to the next class.
Then the VP would talk about the outstanding performance of his own boys—as a very arrogant attempt to make the boss feel jealous.
But in this situation the VP was so effective and powerful in the company, that he could not be dislodged even by his boss (so he could take the risk of openly inviting jealousy). These situations are rare.
In every situation in corporate life—whether at the entry point into the company, in the initial years of working, or on achieving senior management status—there will be or can be jealousy. This is imposed from the outside. One cannot do much about it, because you are not the starting point. You just have to helplessly stand and stare!
Jealousy and envy—nothing has changed from the past—It is unlikely it will ever change!
(Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe and Asia. His latest books are "5 Gs of family Business" with Dr Mita Dixit and "Marketing in a Digital/ Data World" with Brian Almeida. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)