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Glenn Greenwald’s response to Christiane Amanpour’s question on CNN went viral but, believe me, he missed the point. Most foreign journalists covering the Brazilian political situation are being swept away by the romantic story being fed to them by the Labor Party (PT) spin doctors: it reads like a Hollywood script, telling how a humble factory worker became a union leader fighting against evil capitalists, then was elected President and raised 30 million people out of poverty.

Such a great movie naturally generated a sequel and in “Lula 2: The Successor,” we see that our hero manages to elect as successor the first woman President in Brazil; just as that happens, he is diagnosed with throat cancer and needs to distance himself a bit from politics as he battles the disease. He wins the fight for his health and returns to the political scene just in time to campaign again for his protégé Dilma and get her re-elected. Another “box-office hit.”

In “Lula 3: The Empire Strikes Back,” the evil capitalists file a motion to impeach President Dilma, and they accuse our hero of corruption, threatening to put him in jail. The press, manipulated by the evil rich, turns against him and his fellow PT freedom fighters. In the best Hollywood tradition, the story reaches its climax in… a trial scene! Dilma will be tried at the Senate, in a session presided by Donald Sutherland.

Actually, reality is more like a French movie. Basically, because French movies are more like reality. The Brazil story is full of nuances that go far beyond “bad guys wear black hats, good guys wear white hats.” I’m sure Greenwald knows that, but he chose not to show it on TV.

First, the prequel

When PT was born, and Glenn Greenwald was 13 years old, it came from the broad political movement of democrats who opposed the existing military government (1964-1985). As the military began the slow (and successful) transition towards democracy, they tolerated left-wing political parties to be formed and previously illegal ones (like the Communist Party) to become legal again. Eight years after the birth of PT, PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) was formed, founded by some center-left politicians and intellectuals who felt that ideology was more important than simply “criticizing the Government, whoever is in Government.” When you look at the political programs of both PT and PSDB, they were extremely similar. To this day, they remain very much alike.

There is a photo that has gone viral showing Lula and Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) together in the 70’s, distributing pamphlets on the streets of São Paulo. These guys were colleagues, they respect each other. Yet, what sets them apart is also behind what is really going on in Brazilian politics 40 years later.

PT was formed as a labor union party. It was joined by many artists and a few intellectuals, who were all left-wing thinkers and gathered around the only left-wing existing political party at the time. The challenge the party had to face was to get better qualified people to join their ranks. They had great ideals but no political experience and no public administration experience. Their Achilles’ heel was lack of management competence.

When PSDB was formed, that dealt a blow to PT’s aspirations. These guys formed their own separate party, instead of joining their former colleagues. What is worse: PSDB was formed by actual politicians with experience, joined by some intellectuals and businessmen.

What PT lacked, PSDB had in spades: qualified people with leftist ideals, but who could easily interact with politicians from all sides of the spectrum and who had connections with business leaders that sympathized with their cause. PSDB leaders spoke of equality and power to the people, but they wore suits and ties. PT leaders did not own ties. PSDB leaders were articulate, they published books, they spoke like academics, using fancy language. PT leaders had dropped out of high school and could barely write a single paragraph without spelling and grammar mistakes.

The divisive issues

That is the underlying theme separating PT and PSDB: education. There is a mutual contempt that runs deep in Brazilian culture, rooted in childhood. PSDB is proud of the fact that they are well-educated, elegant, and accepted in elite social circles. PT resents that intensely, so they turn it around and declare that they are actually proud of not having “an education”, not speaking fancy words and never knowing how to use cutlery in a proper way.

PSDB was (and still is) a comparatively small political party, in numbers. In a country where 92% of the population “are not able to express themselves correctly in their native language”, most of the party’s leaders came from the 8% who can read and write almost perfectly. PSDB’s Achilles’ heel was its small size. They would never even aspire to win an election on their own. So, they played the “middle of the road” game: they courted the Right and they courted the Left. In terms of ideology, they were closer to the left; but their personal attire and habits brought them closer to the right-leaning elite (the “plutocrats”, according to Greenwald).

Lula and FHC personally tried to bring their parties to form an alliance, but the people at their respective grass roots level would not have it. There was too much mutual resentment and those feelings were growing. When FHC became a Minister of the Treasury, the resentment increased. Now these fancy-pants were part of Government (something that was never a possibility for PT members, as they distanced themselves from other politicians and moved further to the left). FHC called on his technically competent finance friends to join him; they hatched the “Real Plan” that ended inflation, and that catapulted him into the political landscape as a candidate to become President. Turning insult into injury, FHC won the election by a landslide. PT took the role of disgruntled ex-spouse and led the opposition. During their 12 years as an opposition party, PT filed a total of fifty (count them!) impeachment claims against the President (whoever it was at the time). That means more than one every quarter. Is that “trifling with Democracy?”

Flash forward to the present

The lack of qualification in PT’s ranks finally caught up with them. They did invest a lot in trying to educate their own members, and they should be commended for that. However, the gaps were too large and their efforts insufficient. Since Brazil is a culture that values relationships and loyalty, PT adopted in Government a strategy designed to keep them in power permanently: they increased public administration jobs by 40% (not including the jobs in state-owned companies) and created 18 new ministries (from 21 under FHC to 39 under Dilma), using the thousands of jobs that came along with this as currency to buy political support.

Corruption has always existed in Brazil. Also, we have a long tradition of nepotism. Under PT, all this was taken to unprecedented levels, reaching a point when it all went overboard.

In the political campaign of 2014, to re-elect Dilma, PT engaged political marketing strategists who apparently copied the worst side of American politics. They decided to imitate Nixon’s “culture wars” approach and spoke of a “social classes war” between the rich and the poor. PT, of course, was portrayed as being “the only ones who are defending the poor”; everybody else was described as being “supported by the evil rich.” On top of that, they started a smear campaign in the best American tradition. PSDB, instead of avoiding the trap, fell into it head on: they responded with an equally aggressive approach. Soon, all both sides were doing was bad-mouthing their opponents. Nobody was talking about their plans for the Country; they were just telling voters what scumbags their opponents really were.

Dilma won by a narrow margin, too close for comfort. The voting, on both sides, was not so much about supporting Dilma or Aécio Neves (the opposition candidate); it was more about who do you hate the most: if you hate Aécio and what he represents, vote for Dilma; and if you hate Dilma and PT and what they represent, vote for Aécio. It was a close call favoring Dilma.

Because of the aggravation built up during the campaign, PT were bad winners and PSDB were sore losers. It became difficult (if not impossible) for Dilma to rise above it all and propose a “non-partisan administration for all the people.”

Beaten in the ballots, and still smarting, the opposition decided to go to court, once again imitating the wrong side of the American model (if you lose an argument, sue the other guy). At first, PT leaders used the defense strategy of bluffing it: “they don’t have a case against us, they cannot prove any of their accusations.” The problem is: since they filled thousands of jobs with loyal but incompetent partisans, after 12 years the lack of quality started to show. Having to cope with the decrease in demand from China and with a stagnated global economy, government officials were not up to the task. The economy tanked and went into the deepest recession in the past fifty years, just when Government was under attack.

A perfect storm

The increase in politically appointed jobs carried with it wide-spread corruption. People knew that they were not competent enough to keep their jobs once a different politician took office; so they decided to make the most of it while they could. They indulged in “binge bribe-taking”, in the same way the British reacted when Government imposed shorter opening hours for pubs: they simply drank more in less time and got wasted faster. This became common behavior in public administration (the bribes, not the drinking), not only for PT and their supporters, but for all political parties that were occupying the numerous additional jobs created in the past 12 years. People stopped being discrete about it and began demanding bribes somewhat openly.

All this gave the opposition a lot of ammunition, and suddenly they did have proof to support their accusations. The accused threatened to “go down shooting” and “taking my accusers with me”. For every accusation, there were plea bargains implicating other people, including some prosecution witnesses. A senior businessman declared, when accused of bribing politicians (which he alleges he was forced to do): “they will have to build a bigger jail, including cells for myself, Dilma and Lula.”

In Brazil it’s safe to assume that 15% of voters are on the Left and 15% are on the Right, with the “silent majority” of 70% trying to stay away from politics; they just want to get on with their lives. They do criticize corrupt politicians and blame them for all their woes. So when polls show that 70% of voters want Dilma out, that is basically because the economy is going bad and they want all corrupt politicians to be punished. It’s not because they are supporting the Right; they are supporting “the right thing” and there is a big difference. Surely even Amanpour and Greenwald should be able to see that.

Does Dilma deserve to be impeached? Strictly speaking, yes. She deserves it more than Nixon did, if you want to compare the two. She did deeds that go against specific Brazilian legislation in terms of balancing the national budget. However, she is not accused of taking bribes or of corruption. On the other hand, can you believe that she did not know what was going on, when everybody else knew? And can you really accept the argument that “if everybody else is doing it, then it’s not a crime?”

Relatively speaking, it’s a different story. When Dilma was a young Communist in a subversive cell, she was in charge of the money. She was given that role because she was honest and reliable. She played a similar role throughout her whole political career: she has always been charged with roles that require honesty above average. It certainly seems unfair that she might be punished for shoplifting when everybody else in her gang is charged with armed robbery and extortion, including some of her accusers. A benevolent judge might look at the whole situation and dismiss the accusations brought against her. However, under the cold letter of the law, shoplifting is still a crime; and she cannot say that she did not know about the robberies committed by her companions.

Lost in Translation

The majority of the population are against corrupt politicians, even if they are also guilty themselves of petty transgressions almost on a daily basis. The Right, of course, is capitalizing on that. When the people shout “out with Dilma!” the extreme right adds: “and bring back the military!” In fact, less than 15% want the military to come back into power. Even the military don’t want to come back into power. They are not that stupid.

The extreme Right and Left are more vocal, and they are spinning their versions to the press. Most people are simply supporting the prosecution of corrupt politicians, regardless of political parties.

Looking at the situation from a foreign culture perspective, it’s easy to get the wrong idea. For instance, there is this notion that “democracy is under threat.” Well, what democracy are you talking about? Basically, when journalists talk about Democracy, they have their own countries in mind. They are thinking that it’s about having two big parties in perpetual battle and alternating in power (US and UK), or having clear ideological stances (France). They also think that elected officials should be left alone to carry out their mandate until a new election comes up.

In the Brazilian culture, conflicts are avoided on a daily basis because, when they happen, they get out of hand. People get offended and lose respect for each other. They don’t want to wait another four years. Besides, democracy is not just about elections; it’s about constant debates, referendums and voting bills representing government policies. To calm down the opposition and counter the calls for her impeachment, Dilma should have negotiated a broad pact with political and business leaders. The problem is that negotiation is not her forte. Eventually she became isolated, even within her own party.

When foreigners watch Dilma and Lula on TV or when they read about them in the press, they miss an important aspect: they are reading and listening to translated versions of what both of them have said. This actually makes a big difference, because Dilma is a bit dyslexic and she communicates in a very confusing way. She often goes on a tangent mid-sentence, her mind getting ahead of her words. This is very annoying to the Portuguese speaker. Imagine George W. Bush, only more confusing.

Lula, unfortunately, is even worse. His native language skills are appalling; he has terrible diction, speaks with a lisp, his grammar is obscene and he swears every three sentences. Imagine Sarah Palin speaking like a pornographic rapper, but with the social skills of Kanye West. None of that appears in translation, so foreign ears only get the sanitized version.

Still, using fowl language is not a reason for getting impeached or going to jail; but it does add to the negative image that is currently depicting these two formerly popular figures.

You could also argue that Dilma has been caught in the crossfire; the real targets were Lula and PT. Anyway, the impeachment process, as it stands, is hardly “a threat to democracy.” In fact, the whole process is strengthening Brazilian political institutions. Due process is being observed every step of the way. The actual trial, if there ever is one, has not even started. If you want to talk about a “coup d’etat” in disguise, talk about what happened in Paraguay, with the open support of the US Government: an impeachment claim was filed and approved in 24 hours, literally ousting the incumbent overnight. It happened so fast that Christiane Amanpour missed it during her coffee break.

É comum falar de distribuição de renda no Brasil. Não há dúvida de que a renda no País está bastante concentrada no topo da pirâmide social. Meu propósito neste texto não é o de aprofundar a análise estatística desse fenômeno e sim lançar um olhar sobre alguns aspectos da psicologia social dos diferentes grupos que constituem a população brasileira. Proponho que se faça isso usando uma linguagem coloquial e que esse olhar seja o menos acadêmico possível, de tal forma que, como disse o Dilbert, personagem dos quadrinhos de Scott Adams, “até um cara de Marketing possa entender o que você está dizendo.”

Falemos, portanto, de pessoas com renda baixa, média e alta. Para dar uma definição operacional um pouco mais precisa a esses termos bastante gerais, esclareço que no ambiente deste texto, “população” se refere às pessoas que, no Brasil, têm mais de 23 anos de idade e menos de 65. Uso esta definição para permitir algumas classificações de grupos e algumas comparações. É sabido que o Brasil carece de estudos estatísticos que utilizem critérios comuns entre si, fato que acaba prejudicando muitas comparações. Sempre no ambiente deste texto, “renda baixa” significa todos aqueles cuja renda mensal é inferior a três salários mínimos, ou seja, cerca de R$2.200,00. Defino “renda média” como sendo de três a seis salários mínimos, ou seja de R$2.201,00 a R$4.400,00 por mês. Finalmente, “renda alta” é aquela que supera R$4.400,00 mensais. Poderíamos ter discussões infindáveis sobre os critérios de definição desses limites, mas peço que se deixe isso de lado, por enquanto.

Usando os critérios propostos, tomo a liberdade de apelidar o grupo de renda mais baixa: “proletários.” Sei que a patrulha do politicamente correto vai me perseguir do Oiapoque ao Chuí pelo uso do termo, mas vamos em frente. Chamo o grupo de renda média de “remediados” e o grupo de renda alta de “afluentes.” Mais importante do que discutir esses rótulos é olharmos para a distribuição de frequência da população nesses três grupos.

Vejam que temos cerca de 60% da população brasileira (de 23 a 65 anos) entre os proletários; 30% são remediados e 10% são afluentes. Vejam que, se você ganha mais de R$4.400,00, já é “afluente,” embora talvez você se considere “classe média” e os sociólogos de esquerda o considerem “rico.”

Vamos adiante. Muitos dizem (e eu sou um desses) que os problemas sociais do Brasil se resolvem através da educação. Pois bem, a distribuição do nível educacional segue a mesma lógica da distribuição de renda. Ou seja: a educação está também bastante concentrada. Se dividirmos a população (sempre de 23 a 65 anos) em “ignorantes” (aqueles que não têm sequer o secundário completo); “educados” (aqueles que completaram o secundário) e “intelectuais” (aqueles que completaram o curso superior), a distribuição é assustadoramente semelhante à classificação de renda adotada acima no texto. Segundo o IBGE, em 2012 tínhamos 59% de ignorantes, 29,7% de educados e 11,3% de intelectuais.

E se cruzarmos essas duas formas de examinar a população economicamente ativa, temos uma matriz 3 x 3, com nove células. Essas matrizes de nove células são muito utilizadas em empresas, mas menos empregadas no mundo acadêmico.

Ao lançarmos nosso olhar sobre o Brasil utilizando como prisma essa matriz de nove células, temos diante de nós um quadro deveras dramático. A distribuição encontrada é mais ou menos a seguinte (cometi vários arredondamentos, mas a precisão estatística não altera as conclusões que pretendo expor em seguida): na primeira coluna da matriz, 39% dos brasileiros (de 23 a 65 anos) são ignorantes proletários; 18% são ignorantes remediados; e 2% são ignorantes afluentes.

Olhando para a segunda coluna dessa matriz, vemos que 18% são educados proletários; 9% são educados remediados; e 3% são educados afluentes.

Na terceira coluna, vemos que 2% são intelectuais proletários; 3% são intelectuais remediados; e 6% são intelectuais afluentes.

Conclusões para começo de conversa

Estamos diante de nove Brasis, ao olharmos para esses nove grupos. Nem falamos em regiões geográficas. Se pensarmos nas cinco regiões clássicas do Brasil (Norte, Nordeste, Centro-Oeste, Leste e Sul) teremos então 45 Brasis diferentes… Mas não quero enveredar por esse caminho para não alimentar a noção nihilista de que “o Brasil é tão complexo que não adianta discutir e nem adiante querer fazer nada.” O Brasil pode ser melhor administrado, sim.

Olhemos para os nove Brasis, então. Os intelectuais afluentes, que representam a elite do País em termos de educação e renda, são apenas 6% da população economicamente ativa. Estamos falando de cerca de 6 milhões de pessoas que ganham mais de R$4.400,00 mensais e têm curso superior completo. Você faz parte da elite e não sabia.

Renda e educação no Brasil em 2012

  59% 29.7% 11.3%  
Mais de 6 SM


Ignorantes afluentes


    Educados afluentes


Intelectuais afluentes





De 3 a 6 SM

Ignorantes remediados


Educados remediados


Intelectuais remediados




Até 3 SM


Ignorantes proletários


Educados proletários


Intelectuais proletários




  Demais (sem sequer o 2º Grau) Secundário completo Superior completo  

O que é importante concluir destes números? Primeiramente, que uma parcela muito pequena da população (cerca de 6% da PEA representam não mais do que 3% da população total, que inclui todos aqueles que não trabalham) constituem a elite intelectual e de renda brasileira. São apenas 3% da população total! É uma parcela muito pequena do País.

Entretanto, como o País é grande (200 milhões de pessoas), essa elite brasileira de 6 milhões é maior do que a PEA da Suécia ou da Dinamarca, por exemplo. Isso leva facilmente a se viver uma ilusão: a de que essa elite é o Brasil.

Isso acontece quando integrantes dessa elite se reúnem para conversar informalmente e discutir “o Brasil.” Que Brasil é esse que discutem, nas redes sociais, em reuniões informais, em quaisquer círculos sociais, sejam virtuais ou presenciais? Facilmente os integrantes dessa elite deixam de perceber que a maioria deles vive numa espécie de “bolha” artificial, distante da dura realidade de 90% da população que ganha menos de R$4.400,00. Em termos relativos (percentuais) esse grupo de 6 milhões de indivíduos é muito pequeno; mas em termos absolutos é um grupo grande o suficiente para caracterizar um mercado de consumo de produtos de luxo, por exemplo, maior do que o respectivo mercado em qualquer país da Escandinávia. O tamanho bruto desse grupo total os leva a pensar (erroneamente) que representam “o Brasil.” Na verdade, representam uma parcela vergonhosamente pequena do Brasil. São apenas um dos nove Brasis.

Em termos político-ideológicos, a maioria desse grupo seriam classificados como sendo de centro e de direita; não todos, vejam bem: os líderes políticos de esquerda fazem parte desse mesmo grupo, pois ganham mais de R$4.400,00 mensais e têm curso superior completo. O irônico, para não dizer trágico, é que esses seis milhões discutem política apaixonadamente e se referem a um Brasil do qual eles não fazem parte em termos de educação e renda. A grande maioria do País é constituída por pessoas que ganham muito pouco e não têm educação. Essas pessoas sequer participam da discussão política; servem de massa de manobra para os pseudo-intelectuais afluentes de direita e esquerda que trocam sopapos virtuais na internet diariamente.

Tanto os líderes de direita como os de esquerda exibem uma arrogância acachapante ao falar de um Brasil muito diferente daquilo que vivem no seu dia-a-dia. Olhem para os nove Brasis de novo e vejam que cerca de 60% da população em idade de trabalhar ganha menos de R$2.200,00; cerca de 60% da população, vista por outro ângulo, não tem nem o secundário completo. Ao cruzar as duas vertentes, temos que quase 40% não têm nem uma coisa nem outra: são ignorantes e proletários.

Quando vejo a multidão que foi às ruas protestar contra o governo no dia 13 de março, a quantidade de pessoas parece impressionante. Todavia, ao ver as coisas em perspectiva, percebo que as pessoas que foram às ruas, infelizmente, estão longe de representar o País. Digo “infelizmente”, porque o Brasil precisa de muito mais gente com consciência política para evitar que se troque um bando de desonestos no governo por outro bando pior ainda.

Não tenho dúvida de que esse governo é incompetente e desonesto, sendo que a sua incompetência é maior ainda do que a sua desonestidade. Ainda bem: pois se fossem mais competentes, estariam nos enganando melhor e isso seria pior para o País. Não se teria progredido tanto nos processos judiciais contra a corrupção, não fosse tão grande a incompetência desses corruptos. Entretanto, o Brasil precisa de muito mais do que simplesmente uma troca de Presidente.

Qual é o desafio da elite brasileira?

É tomar consciência dos nove Brasis, para começo de conversa; e mudar essas proporções, distribuindo renda e educação. Isso não deve ser feito de forma assistencialista, paternalista, marxista ou capitalista. Precisamos apenas de bom senso e honestidade. Isso significa valorizar mais a educação, remunerando muito melhor aos professores e educando-os também, muito melhor. Significa, ainda, reformar nossa estrutura tributária para torna-la mais simples, mais eficiente, mais justa e mais fácil de administrar. A elite deve pagar mais impostos, sim. Valerá a pena, para ter uma sociedade mais justa e mais segura para todos. Não precisamos nos tornar uma nova Suécia; basta apenas nos tornarmos um pouco mais honestos e eficientes do que somos hoje. Isso não é tão difícil; e é o mínimo que podemos fazer para os nossos netos.

Arguably, all state-managed pension funds in the world are broke, from America to Zambia. The reasons may be different: typically, there is some degree of corruption involved (funds syphoned for personal gain) and some degree of mismanagement (funds diverted for political purposes to destinations that did not provide sufficient return). There is also some degree of plain incompetence, investing funds in securities that went bad.IMG_0164

Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that official pension funds are broke because they are practically always “defined benefit” funds. That is, they promise to pay out a previously defined benefit (a fixed amount, or a percentage of salary) while the returns from the moneys invested are not sufficient to afford that promise.

Many private pension funds have suffered from similar problems in the past 30 years, but private funds have found a way out: most of them have converted themselves into “defined contribution” plans. These plans do not promise a fixed amount or a percentage of salary; their promise is simply “whatever the result of your investment will be when you reach retirement age.” In theory, the amount of the benefit might be bigger or smaller than a “target” amount, depending on how well the investments are managed throughout the funding period. This might therefore be better or worse than you expected, but in all cases it will be better than having no pension at all because your fund went belly up!

Greece’s pension funds are a particularly prime example of bad management. As the situation stands, they are broke: they do not have the funds to fulfill their promises, and the only way they can pay out the promised benefits is through additional funding made directly by the Greek government, which means indirectly by international creditors (basically European Union taxpayers and EU financial institutions).

So, the creditors want the Greek government to reduce the pensioners’ benefits, present and future. The Greek government does not want to do that, because if they do it, they will be kicked out of office (to say the least).

Greece is just a glaring instance; basically, all countries are facing similar problems, to a less visible degree. Governments should follow the examples of many private fund situations (I was personally involved in addressing three such instances successfully).

It’s not rocket science. What needs to be done (we’ve done it successfully, I repeat, on three occasions) is to create a new defined contribution plan that will simply be bankruptcy-proof, and offer people the option to move to the new plan. The implementation of such a strategy is not just a walk in the park, but it works. The new plan has to be attractive enough that people will choose for it; it needs to be perceived as solid and providing enough of an upside that will cause people to embrace it. This is not as difficult as it sounds, if the alternative is to remain in an old plan that threatens to pay out much less (if at all). Just providing people with an alternative to bankruptcy may be advantageous enough. Providing people with choices regarding the portfolio that the new fund will be investing in is also a plus: typically, individuals can choose for more aggressive or more conservative portfolios. This gives people a greater sense of responsibility for the eventual outcome, rather than just blaming the government. Every year people are given the opportunity to continue with their choice of portfolio or to change it. Millions of people are already doing that in private funds in different countries. State-managed funds should follow their lead.

Of course, there will be criticism dished out generously; but the sooner the issues are tackled, the better. Most governments worldwide are simply postponing the problem, or dealing with it with “half-measures” like extending the minimum retirement age from 65 to 70 or 75. This does not really solve the problem; it is just a delaying tactic.

It does take guts to face the crowds and tell them the truth: that the pension funds are broke. And it takes creativity to design a new pension plan that will be solid and provide certain advantages over the old, bankrupt ones. To my knowledge, only Chile has shown previously this combination of creativity and courage. I’m sure there must be many people in Chile who might be critical of their system today (you can never please everybody), but I believe they are better off than most other countries in the world. If there are issues with the Chilean strategy, Greece and other countries might learn from that and do it even better. Delaying the problem will not help to resolve it; things will end badly, like in a Greek tragedy.

Competency models, most of the time, are very culturally biased and can easily be dysfunctional.

You need to exercise a lot of critical thinking when assessing these lists; you will find that most of them fail miserably when submitted to critical questioning.

What you really want is a list of competencies that will be USEFUL to describe a leader’s behavior (or an aspiring leader’s behavior). Regarding every list, you need to ask:

  1. is this list complete enough? What items are missing?
  2. are the items truly distinct from each other? Which items might be redundant?
  3. Which items are culturally biased? How can we mitigate the bias?

Lists that are based on research tend to be culturally biased for two main reasons:

  1. doing research to come up with a list is an Anglo-Saxon culture bias, to begin with… In other cultures people might come up with concept-based lists rather than survey-based ones;
  2. all surveys depend on the survey sample: if your research was conducted in California, it will have a California culture bias; and so on.

It all boils down to describing what does a good leader DO… And to describe that objectively, completely, and with minimum bias. Easier said than done.

Edgar Schein, who I admire for his pragmatic wisdom, has said that what managers do, in essence, is what I translate in my own words as ANALYZE, DECIDE and MOBILISE. You may argue that a leader does things differently from a manager; I contend that, in practice, you need people who can both lead AND manage; or else, you get in trouble. I would say that what a leader does is VISUALIZE, HARMONIZE and INSPIRE. So the USEFUL competency list probably needs to include all six aspects, in some shape or form.

When scrutinizing your tentative lists for quality, ask yourself if they cater to these six aspects above, or do you need to add an item or two to the list. And are some items actually expressing the same thing? It might be useful to branch out the list in terms of items and sub-items: the “root” items can be kept to a minimum; the sub-items might add depth and nuances.

I’ve developed my own roadmap to leadership, which I have called “4-3-2-1 Leadership”. In summary, it means:

  1. being aware that people have four dimensions: rational, emotional, spiritual and physical; and that there is no hierarchy among these;
  2. seeking three “destinations” or qualities that an effective leader has: (1) the notion that “we are in this together”; (2) the ability to say “this is my vision”; and (3) honesty with oneself and with others;
  3. self-awareness in terms of seeking the response to two fundamental questions: who are you and what do you want?
  4. the willingness to go on the journey to become a leader; it is an on-going, never ending learning process, and you need to really want to engage in it.

I need to add that in order to say “this is my vision”, you need three things (or “sub-things”…): (1) a vision; (2) the courage to speak up; and (3) the communication skills to articulate your vision in an engaging way. Without these three competencies you are not a leader.

Most lists that I have come across fail the test of completeness: they miss some of the six aspects I first mentioned, and some of the “4-3-2-1” aspects. If I had to pick among the lists I’ve seen lately, I would choose one, by Global Leadership Architect, but with a couple of additions and one or two amendments.

  • Ethics/Values/Integrity and Trust
  • Rational analysis
  • Empathy/Customer Focus (ability to understand others)
  • Awareness of physical/mental links (in self and in others)
  • Vision communication/Directing others
  • Self-confidence/Drive for Results
  • Problem Solving/Priority Setting/Decision Quality (to bear the emotional consequences of your decisions)
  • Building Effective Teams
  • Self-awareness
  • Will to learn/change

What does your list look like?

As the wise philosopher Elton John once said: “’sorry’ seems to be the hardest word.”

Actually, like everything in life, culture has a strong influence on the meaning of saying you feel sorry, or asking for an apology. It might come as a surprise, to some, but an apology has quite different connotations in different cultures. To understand the meaning of saying you’re sorry, you need to understand the context: you need to understand the culture.

In individualistic cultures, such as the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Scandinavian, apologizing has a much greater weight than in collectivistic cultures such as the Latin American, African and Asian, in general. It’s always dangerous to generalize, but understanding the context is always important, so please bear with me.

In individualistic cultures taking individual responsibility is more valued; therefore, feelings of guilt are more predominant when you feel you have done wrong. In collectivistic cultures, being loyal to your group (or groups) is more important than being accountable to your self; therefore, feelings of shame, rather than guilt, are predominant when you feel you have done wrong.

This means that in individualistic cultures, admitting to yourself and to others that you have done something wrong carries with it enormous feelings of guilt. Because of the nature of individualistic cultures’ value systems, that admission also implies that you cannot blame anyone else, or any extraneous factors, for what you have done. It all rests on you, and you alone. This also means, then, that your self-judgment is extremely important, while in collectivistic cultures it is the judgment of others about you that carries the greater weight.

The corollary is that, generally speaking, people in individualistic cultures tend to hesitate more before asking for an apology (sorry is the hardest word), because if they do, they are condemning themselves to strong guilt feelings. The paradox is that, because of all this, the community at large tends to be more forgiving, once an admission of responsibility is expressed and an apology is asked. In such cultures, the dynamic is: (1) it’s difficult to say you’re sorry; and (2) once you are brave enough to ask for an apology, people tend to forgive you more easily. Perhaps this is because everyone in an individualistic culture realizes how difficult it is to deal with those strong feelings of guilt; perhaps it is also because saying you are sorry reinforces the value that taking individual responsibility is so important.

In collectivistic cultures the dynamic is different: (1) it’s easy to apologize; but (2) people tend to be less forgiving, whether you apologize or not. The important thing is: how will the group think of me, rather than how will I think about myself.

As always, things work fine within the confines of a given culture; the problem starts when we cross cultures.

To people from collectivistic cultures, it seems very odd, and even quite irritating, to see how people in individualistic cultures seem to get away with murder (figuratively speaking), as long as they apologize. Celebrities, politicians and prominent executives may be caught doing awful things; once they issue a public apology, the public (in that culture) seems quite ready to forgive everything… After all, they apologized!

And when they don’t apologize, or show no remorse, public condemnation is more intense. It’s seems almost as if the refusal to say you’re sorry is a bigger crime than whatever it is that you have done wrong.

But, to a collectivistic, an apology means nothing! It is a shame how easily people are forgiven, just because they said “I’m sorry!”

Conversely, it is very annoying to people from individualistic cultures that people accused of wrongdoings in a collectivistic culture often do not apologize. They fail to see that one of the reasons for not apologizing is that, in a collectivistic culture, the apology is not regarded as important, it won’t make any difference… The accused are focusing on how to manage the impression others have of them. And they may not really feel responsible for what happened, since in their culture the context has greater weight than individual responsibility. They are not trying to avoid responsibility (a “mortal sin” to an individualist), they genuinely do not feel responsible. The irony is that, when “others” are the public in an individualistic culture, the situation would be solved more quickly by saying you are sorry… to the amazement of the collectivistic person, who intuitively thinks “it cannot be that simple! Besides, it wasn’t really my fault, so why should I apologize, when it was not I who brought this about?”

Which is more painful, feeling guilt or feeling shame? That’s easy to answer: it depends on the culture!

In individualistic cultures, shame is more easily brushed aside. “Who cares what other people think? It’s my own opinion of myself that matters the most!” Guilt is more painful than shame.

In collectivistic cultures, guilt is more easily brushed aside. “It wasn’t really my fault, someone else (or something else) is to blame!” Shame is more painful than guilt.

And if you, who are reading this, do not agree, I have one last thing to say: (1) if you are from an individualistic culture, please accept my apology, I meant no harm; (2) if you are from a collectivistic culture, don’t blame me, blame the research that has been published about culture differences!

Agradeço à amiga Marly Siqueira por me mandar o link de uma palestra do Manuel Castels, sociólogo espanhol:

A palestra do Manuel Castels é a de um romântico tergiversando sobre o óbvio… mas no bom sentido. :o)

O óbvio precisa ser dito, principalmente porque um aspecto que tem me preocupado bastante é justamente a escassa disseminação de ideias de vanguarda na sociedade.

O Castels é um romântico porque diz que a sociedade está se transformando e que a internet já não é uma minoria, o mundo inteiro está conectado… e isso não é verdade, esse é um sonho romântico que ainda não é realidade. Quem me dera fosse… Se existem 3 bilhões de conectados (acho o dado exagerado), restam mais de 4 bilhões sem conexão (sem contar os clientes da Net, que às vezes têm conexão e às vezes não…!)

Falamos do mundo que está mais próximo de nós como se fosse o mundo todo, mas o mundo todo é muito mais alienado e ignorante do que gostaríamos.

O movimento de ocupação de Wall Street (e de outros lugares) teve a sua importância, mas ela é muito menor do que gostaríamos de pensar. O movimento de protesto contra “os 1%” mais ricos está mudando a mentalidade da sociedade? Talvez esteja mudando a mentalidade de 5% da sociedade, e olhe lá… E, mesmo assim, muito devagar.

As mulheres mudaram a maneira de pensar sobre si mesmas? Sim, as mulheres informadas, interessadas. Quantas são, como percentual da sociedade? Talvez sejam 50% das mulheres brasileiras que têm pelo menos o secundário completo e renda familiar superior a cinco salários mínimos (R$ 4.000,00). Ou será que estou sendo otimista?

Pois bem, as mulheres brasileiras com essa renda e escolaridade representam menos de 5% da população, segundo o IBGE! Portanto, apenas metade disso mudou de mentalidade, ou seja: 2,5%…

É que esses 2,5% representam cerca de um milhão de pessoas. Um milhão é bastante gente; e se fazem parte da “nossa” classe sócio-econômica, fazem parte do “nosso mundo”. Ficamos com a impressão de que “o mundo está mudando!”. Mas é só o “nosso” mundo… Os outros 97.5% não mudaram.

Me preocupa a ideia de que os intelectuais afluentes (como eu) vivem numa bolha e não se dão conta do quão pequena é essa bolha. Quantas pessoas assistiram à palestra do Castels via YouTube? 10.185 pessoas. O desafio é transformar isso em dez milhões.

Quanto ao conteúdo do que ele disse, me interessa a questão da busca de novas formas de representação democrática, conforme eu escrevi em 2008 no “Tire Os Seus Óculos”. Veja que em 2008 isso já não era novidade; passaram-se sete anos e pouca coisa mudou. A cultura muda, sim, mas muuuiito devagar… E as mudanças ocorrem nas cabeças da minoria informada e afluente, que segue na ilusão de que representa o mundo todo.

Por isso tudo é importante disseminar o debate, para que mais pessoas despertem para a consciência social e política, para fora dos limites da bolha intelectual afluente. Sem revolução, sem luta armada, sem radicalismo. Por evolução. Mas a evolução precisa também ser acelerada pela disseminação do debate, para sair da velocidade de lesma baiana e passar à velocidade de uma tartaruga paulistana, pelo menos…

An article by David Brooks on the International New York Times published on 29 April 2015 raises some provocative issues regarding Hillary Clinton’s image as a presidential candidate. A poll quoted by Brooks says that 60% of those polled think Hillary has strong leadership qualities; yet 61% say that she is not honest and trustworthy. So, would you vote for someone who is a strong leader but should not be trusted? The answer for many people is “yes!” We will see if it is “yes” for the majority of the voters, but even if it’s not, still it is important to look at how come so many people will often choose candidates, all over the world, not just in America, who may have strong leadership qualities but low moral values.

An explanation worthy of attention is that people like candidates who personify certain values that are treasured by that culture. I’m not saying that Americans will vote for candidates who are not honest and trustworthy… I am saying that they will vote for someone who is perceived as being a strong leader, according to the American culture’s definition of “strong leadership.” The same is true for every culture in the world: people will pick those candidates that model each culture’s most treasured values.

In the US, people do frown at politicians who are not honest and trustworthy; but there are other personal traits that are actually considered to be more important than honesty, such as being decisive, assertive and bold. There is also a collective notion in the US (and elsewhere) that “all politicians are dishonest and not trustworthy.” The rationale then is that, since they’re all dishonest, who would you pick? The ones who model our most treasured values, such as assertiveness, boldness and decisiveness.

Towards the end of his article, Brooks mentioned other iconic Anglo-Saxon leaders, like Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington. The latter is widely regarded as being an honest and trustworthy person, but you cannot say the same about Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt: their image, in spite of all the benefit received from positive propaganda over the years, is still closer to the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton.

Churchill is still regarded as an icon of courage and endurance. It seems that, the more the years go by, the more positive his image becomes. Boris Johnson, the flamboyant London Mayor, just launched a book praising Churchill again. People are quick to forget that this was the man who refused to receive Gandhi when the Indian leader came to visit London on a peace mission, dismissing him as “a vagabond dressed in loin cloth;” who first ordered the bombing of civilians during World War II, “to break the German people’s spirit and turn them against their leaders.” As it turns out, history is always written by the winning side, so the version that has been most widely disseminated is that the Nazis were the ones bombing England civilians to break their spirit; little coverage has been given to the fact that this happened as a reaction to what Churchill had started. I am not trying to defend the Nazis here; I am pointing out that during a war there is hardly any side that can claim moral high ground, whichever the war. The winning side praises their heroes, the ones who are consistent with their culture’s values; and quickly sweeps under the rug those traits that would expose that hero’s darker side.

Churchill will continue to be praised for his assertiveness, his decisiveness and his resilience. He will not be remembered for being an arrogant, prejudiced and heartless S.O.B., which he also was. Certainly in England and in the US people do not want to look at the darker side of Winston, just as they prefer not to dwell on the darker side of other leaders like, for instance, Lincoln or Kennedy.

Every culture suffers from the same malady: they desperately seek and promote leaders who are mirrors of their most treasured values; they overlook the negative aspects of those leaders; people just do not want to see that. For any leader, then, the key to success will be to highlight the desired traits and hide the undesirable ones. The traits will be different, from culture to culture.

In Germany, political leaders must show that they value order, structure and discipline, more than anything else. In Scandinavia they must show that they care for others and that they can also be vulnerable, despite holding powerful positions. In Latin America they need to demonstrate that they can exercise power with force, if necessary, but they must also show kindness to the less privileged. In most cultures all over the world, perhaps in all of them, it gives me personal pain to acknowledge, honesty and trustworthiness are not at the top of the list of political leaders’ desired traits, but rather a bit further down. They are “nice to have’s”, but not conditions to run for office.

Many years ago, an American Political Sciences professor, a staunch Republican, told me that the US political system was very consistent over the years: whoever managed to get the greater financial support, won every election for President. He told me that in the 1970’s and he’s been right ever since, from Nixon to Obama. And how do you get financial support? By portraying the culture’s most treasured traits and sweeping your dark side under the rug. It will happen again.

Bad people management kills 150.

The Germanwings crash that killed 150 people as a psychotic co-pilot hurled the plane against a mountain underlines how important it is to have a thorough psychological assessment of job candidates, and of the potentially tragic consequences of overlooking your Human Resources Department’s advice on managing people issues.

Jim Collins (in his bestseller “From Good to Great”) told us to leave the strategy issue aside for a moment and focus on “getting the right people on the bus”, to begin with. If you have the right people, he argued, they will design the right strategy, execute it in the best way and deliver top performance.

Putting the right people in the right place has been the summary of people management for decades, and it all begins with choosing whom we are going to hire for our company. Yet, in practice, when I look at how companies recruit and select the people that they will hire, the situation is terrible, about as bad as it can get.

Everywhere I turn, I see companies using mediocre people to do their recruiting and selection. They put junior, inexperienced people to do this, not realizing that choosing the people you are taking into your organization is something of strategic importance; and in some cases, as we have tragically witnessed, it may be a matter of life and death.

Even within the HR function itself, R&S (Recruiting and Selection) is widely considered to be a “second rate” function. Compare R&S to Learning & Development or to the Reward function: usually you have the least experienced professionals doing R&S. It is usually regarded as a starting point for a career in HR; people start there and then “evolve” to more senior functions within Human Resources Management. Look at the compensation levels of HR professionals, and any survey will show that an R&S professional earns less money than his/her colleagues in other HR functions. “That’s just how the market is”, I often hear.

Yet I insist that choosing who you are going to hire is something of crucial importance: it will affect your organizational culture, your public reputation and your company’s performance for years to come. How can this be so undervalued?

Most companies treat R&S as a burden, something unpleasant that needs to be done, but few people enjoy doing. “It’s too subjective”, they say, so many companies treat it mechanically and require candidates to endure hours of psychometric testing. This, of course, is a great mistake. No amount of testing will remove the subjectivity of the selection process. What you do need is some very good, well-paid, professional interviewers; they will give you better results than any test ever will.

Tests are far from being foolproof; they are only as good as the people who design them, administer them and interpret their results. If you have idiots back to front in that process, what you get is a lousy outcome disguised as science.

When culture gets in the way

The Germanwings co-pilot who decided to take his own life and also the lives of 150 people was clearly psychotic, by definition, when he did that terrible deed. When he applied for a job, years earlier, his psychological problems were already apparent, as records show. At one point, during his training, he was deemed “unfit to fly” and directed to have psychiatric treatment. However, in circumstances not yet known, after a few months he was considered fit again and resumed his training. What went wrong in the process?

Perhaps the truth will never come out. This is one of those details that do not interest the general public, who also tend to disregard the importance of R&S. As a matter of fact, the general public tends to identify themselves with the role of a job candidate, an individual desperately seeking employment, who suddenly gets turned down by some evil HR person.

I’ve known some rather senior and educated individuals who still criticize R&S professionals, questioning “how can some psychologist decide on whether a person is fit or not for a job, when they don’t really know the person, or the industry?” Usually, of course, that sort of remark comes from someone who has experienced that kind of rejection and simply has not recovered from it.

Well, there are good reasons for psychologists to reject certain candidates. Of course, there are good and bad psychologists, like in any professions, just as you can have good and bad doctors and good or bad engineers. A psychologist is a trained professional that has been educated to assess people; if, on top of that, he or she is a sensitive and skilled professional, they can certainly assess people with accuracy. Do not underrate the importance of their advice.

In the case of the young German co-pilot there is another important aspect, which relates to a darker side of individualistic cultures. These are cultures in which individual responsibility is considered more important than belonging to a group; in which individual freedom is very valued and respect for individual privacy is also of primary importance. In most individualistic cultures, there is also present a certain level of egalitarianism (what is called a “low Power Distance”). This means that organizations have more of a “flat” structure, with less hierarchy. Typical examples of individualistic and egalitarian cultures are the Germanic cultures, the Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavian and the Dutch.

So, what’s wrong with egalitarian cultures that value individual freedom, responsibility and privacy? Well, all cultures have a bright side and a dark side to them, no culture is really better than another (forget what the media tells you). The dark side of these cultures is that abnormal behavior, as in signs of mental illness, or even behavior leading to criminal actions, easily goes by unnoticed.

It is no coincidence that we’ve recently seen cases in which children have lived captive in basements or back yard huts for decades and the neighbors simply did not see what was going on. They were minding their own business, concerned with their own individual responsibility; and they were respecting other people’s privacy. “We sometimes hear screaming and shouting coming from that house, yet there is only one person living there by himself? It’s none of our business. The neighbor’s children haven’t been seen in the past two years? None of our business. The kids stopped going to school? We should not be concerned with what is going on next door.”

In some of these cases the police was called to investigate. However, the “investigating” was limited to knocking on the front door and asking a few questions on the porch. The police are keen to avoid invading a person’s privacy, avoid abusing their own authority. And because of that, criminal activities continue undetected, mentally ill people continue unassisted, tortured by their inner monsters, suffering alone without outside help.

In individualistic cultures you also see a much higher frequency of individuals going totally crazy, having a psychotic surge and taking guns in their hands and shooting everybody at random, before killing themselves. If you look at the statistics of similar crimes in collectivistic cultures (most of Latin America, Africa and Asia), the proportion is over 10 to 1 towards such crimes being committed in individualistic cultures.

In collectivistic cultures people are more “in tune” with other members of the groups that they belong to; relationships take precedence over individual privacy; maintaining group harmony is more important than individual freedom. Therefore, communities spot deviant behavior more easily; they offer help more readily to their neighbors; they take steps towards caring for people who are mentally disturbed.

In the Germanwings case, it is most tragic to see that there were numerous warning signals present throughout the co-pilots whole life and career. He was suffering tremendously, yet assistance was very limited. His behavior was considered “normal” by many. “He’s a quiet guy, he keeps to himself”. In a collectivistic society, this would be read as “this person has a serious problem”. In an individualistic society, this is read simply as “the guy just wants to be left alone, we must respect his privacy”.

On the eve of the terrible crash, a doctor gave him a note stating that he was unfit to fly. Perhaps the doctor’s assumption was that this was enough for him to take the individual responsibility of resigning, or asking for a leave of absence. The key here is that the doctor gave HIM that responsibility! What a terrible mistake! This is like telling a psychotic individual “you are seriously ill, you should commit yourself to a hospital” and then letting him walk out of the doctor’s office with a machine gun in his hands…

In a hierarchical culture, the doctor should immediately communicate with this individual’s family and with his employer, ensuring that he would not be allowed to fly a plane and that he would resume his psychiatric treatment at once. Rather than respecting the patient’s privacy, the welfare of the community would take precedence. Rather than giving the patient responsibility, the doctor would take responsibility for ensuring that this patient would do no harm to himself or to others around him.

And even before that tragic day, where was the Human Resources department of the company, who did nothing to help the poor guy? Where was his superior officer, who did not spot the problem in spite of the signals that were being repeatedly sent out? Where were his family, friends and neighbors?

Every culture needs to realize that there is something to learn from other cultures. No culture is perfect; no culture is better than others. We do need to start looking at the dark side of our cultures and begin discussing what might be done to avoid the different kinds of tragedies that they breed. Sometimes this may be a matter of life and death.

Há uns anos atrás eu fui o Vice-Presidente de Recursos Humanos do Banco ABN AMRO Real em São Paulo. Era a virada do século, ou talvez eu devesse dizer, a virada do milênio, uma época em que o Brasil estava se preparando para a eleição de 2002 do Presidente Lula, o primeiro sindicalista a se tornar Presidente do País vindo da classe operária e que não tinha uma educação universitária.

Os sindicatos do Brasil eram geralmente menosprezados pelos empregadores; eram considerados meros arruaceiros, radicais políticos que deviam ser combatidos em todas as oportunidades, com a mesma tenacidade que esses líderes demonstravam ao liderar protestos nas portas de fábricas. Deviam ser rejeitados com a mesma persistência que o “Lula” estava demonstrando como candidato, pois ele concorria a Presidente pela quarta vez.

Os sindicatos bancários eram um dos mais poderosos e influentes no Brasil e geralmente organizavam greves que abrangiam o País inteiro. Isso acontecia pelo menos uma vez por ano, logo antes das negociações salariais, que deveriam acontecer em setembro, depois de muitas agressões verbais de parte a parte com os empregadores, nas mesas de negociação e também através da imprensa. Ás vezes havia também alguma violência, como jogar pedras nas vitrines das agências bancárias, ou bloquear fisicamente a entrada dos prédios onde os bancos tinham os seus centros operacionais ou as suas casas matrizes. Muitas vezes também os sindicatos contratavam jagunços para fazerem linhas de piquete. Depois de tudo isso, eventualmente se obtinha um acordo e se conseguia restaurar a paz. Mesmo assim, durante o ano, haviam por vezes demonstrações, protestos contra determinadas condições de trabalho, contra o salário insuficiente, ou contra programas de demissões. Haviam protestos contra a terceirização ou contra a demissão de empregados específicos que teriam sido dispensados injustamente pelos seus chefes.

Naquela época, decidimos tratar essa questão de relações industriais de uma forma diferente. Eu comecei a encarar a situação como uma espécie de triângulo amoroso: entre os gestores do banco, o quadro de pessoal e o sindicato.

O eterno triângulo

Na minha perspectiva a gestão do banco precisava considerar o nosso quadro de pessoal como se fosse uma amante que estava se distanciando de nós. O outro homem (ou a outra mulher, dependendo do caso), o rival, recebendo o afeto do quadro de pessoal, era o sindicato. Num triângulo amoroso, se você descobre que a pessoa que você ama está sendo cortejada por um rival, você tem duas coisas que você pode fazer. (Na verdade, pode ser que existam muito mais coisas que você possa fazer, mas a decisão mais frequente que as pessoas precisam tomar é entre duas opções). Primeiro: você luta com o seu rival, verbalmente ou fisicamente, desafia o rival para um duelo ou simplesmente mata o cara. Esse é o enredo de muitas histórias e romances desde há muitos séculos. A segunda opção: você tenta reconquistar o amor da pessoa amada, de modo que essa pessoa amada escolha ficar com você ao invés de escolher o seu rival.

Acontece que destruir o seu rival enseja um enredo melhor, mais dramático e mais interessante; e portanto esse é o enredo mais frequente das novelas, dos romances da literatura e também das histórias do folclore. A situação clássica é que a pessoa amada está, de certa forma, dividida entre você e o seu rival. Se você elimina o seu rival, ela vai ficar com você, ou pelo menos é isso o que você pensa. Em muitas histórias, no entanto, quando você, furioso, bate no seu rival, ele se torna vítima da sua raiva; e a sua pessoa amada passa a consolar o seu rival, ao invés de se voltar para você. Ela rejeita você como agressor e toma o lado do rival como vítima.

Uma estratégia muito mais eficaz, na minha opinião, seria focar a atenção em reconquistar o amor da pessoa amada. Você precisa se declarar para ela e distrai-la do seu rival. Eu sei que isso pode ser mais difícil de fazer, especialmente para algumas pessoas que ficam raivosas e furiosas com muita facilidade e que gostariam simplesmente de fazer o rival em pedacinhos.

Nas relações sindicais brasileiras, a atitude mais comum dos gestores das empresas é lutar com o rival, (que é o sindicato) pensando que, com isso, necessariamente, o quadro de pessoal ficará do lado da empresa, ao invés de ficar ao lado do sindicato e dos protestos. O que ocorre na prática, muitas vezes, é o oposto: quanto mais você luta contra o sindicato, mais o quadro de pessoal toma o lado do sindicato e se volta contra a empresa.

Uma abordagem diferente

Nós decidimos focar a nossa atenção no quadro de pessoal, ao invés de dedicar a nossa energia a lutar contra o sindicato. Tentamos fazer com que o nosso pessoal fosse realmente tratado com justiça, com respeito, com carinho. Oferecemos benefícios que eram um pouco melhores do que a maioria dos outros bancos, proporcionamos mais oportunidades de aprendizagem e desenvolvimento do que em qualquer outra organização, encorajamos a participação em todos os níveis, treinamos e fizemos coaching com os nossos gerentes, para que eles fossem melhores na liderança de suas equipes. Abrimos canais diretos de comunicação com as pessoas em toda a empresa, de modo a possibilitar que eles se queixassem de qualquer tratamento que não fosse justo e que pudessem nos levar, então, a corrigir alguma coisa que não estivesse acontecendo como deveria.

Não conseguimos mudar a situação de uma hora para a outra, não foi algo que aconteceu da noite para o dia. Mas depois de dois anos mantendo essa abordagem sistemática, os resultados eram evidentes. A satisfação no emprego se tornou extremamente alta, o engajamento estava cada vez mais elevado. Os nossos funcionários não aderiam aos piquetes e aos protestos. Houve até mesmo uma ocasião, memorável, em que o sindicato estacionou um caminhão de som em frente ao nosso escritório principal, na Avenida Paulista, no centro financeiro de São Paulo.

Diferentes líderes sindicais estavam fazendo discursos eloquentes, xingando os nossos diretores, justamente na hora do almoço, quando milhares de funcionários saíam do prédio principal para almoçar fora e depois retornavam uma hora depois. Uma das nossas funcionárias subiu no caminhão de som e pediu o microfone. Quando o líder sindical entregou o microfone para essa pessoa, ela fez um discurso eloquente… criticando o sindicato e elogiando o banco. Disse que aquilo que o sindicato estava dizendo era um monte de mentiras. Falou que eles não estavam ajudando os funcionários, tentando provocar uma briga com a diretoria do banco. Disse que essa diretoria era a melhor equipe de gestão com a qual ela jamais havia trabalhado, as pessoas no banco eram tratadas com respeito, com carinho e com atenção, algo que nunca tinha se visto em qualquer outro banco.

Bom, essa foi a última vez que o sindicato estacionou um carro de som em frente ao Banco Real. A partir daí, o sindicato resolveu focar a sua atenção em outros bancos. Quando eles vinham discutir as coisas conosco, eles eram bem mais educados e genuinamente interessados em trabalhar junto conosco, ao invés de contra nós. Em lugar de confrontar o banco, eles por vezes se queixavam, mas com um tom mais modesto, mais humilde, pedindo que a gente desse mais atenção às causas que eles estavam apoiando. Queriam ser tratados com o mesmo respeito, com a mesma atenção, com o mesmo carinho que estávamos dando para o nosso quadro de pessoal em geral. Isso durou quatro anos, até que eu deixei o ABN AMRO Real em São Paulo e me mudei para a Holanda.

No amor e na política

A situação política no Brasil, e também em outras partes do mundo, é muito semelhante a esse triângulo amoroso. A elite brasileira, os 1% que detêm a maior parte da renda do País, que têm os níveis mais altos de educação e que têm acesso aos melhores benefícios sociais e de saúde, estão num triângulo amoroso contra os seus rivais, que são os radicais dos sindicatos, da extrema esquerda, os anticapitalistas, os jihadistas que lutam contra o domínio ocidental. A terceira parte nesse triângulo são as maiorias silenciosas, os milhões de pessoas que querem simplesmente continuar com a sua vida em paz e que querem segurança, educação, emprego e saúde.

Se a elite continuar a não atender as necessidades básicas da população e ao invés disso, continuar a focar a sua atenção em lutar contra os líderes sindicais, lutar contra o Estado Islâmico da Síria e os seus equivalentes revolucionários, na verdade com isso eles estarão alimentando as revoluções. Eles estarão fazendo a sua própria sobrevivência como elite cada vez mais difícil. A elite precisa mudar a sua atenção para melhorar as condições de vida das pessoas em geral, em toda parte. No Brasil, se nós investíssemos mais tempo, energia e dinheiro em educação, nós poderíamos viver em uma sociedade muito melhor, com menos criminalidade e menos violência. Quanto mais a gente foca energia simplesmente em lutar contra a criminalidade e não em melhorar as condições de vida, através de educação e saúde, mais a gente dá munição para a esquerda radical e mais a gente assegura que uma vida criminosa acabe sendo uma alternativa para tentar melhorar de vida, para quem não tem educação e para quem está desempregado.

A elite brasileira coloca a culpa de tudo no PT e dirige a sua energia em lutar contra o PT. Eu acho que a elite está focando no lado errado do triângulo, eles precisam focar no lado das pessoas pobres, que vivem na base da pirâmide social brasileira. Quando se conseguir acabar com a pobreza, quando milhões de pessoas se tornarem parte de uma verdadeira classe média, o PT não terá mais o apoio que ele tem hoje. O PT se alimenta da injustiça social. Se a elite acaba com a injustiça social, o PT vai morrer de fome. Em todo o mundo, se a elite acaba com a inanição, os radicais é que morrerão de fome politicamente.

O problema que precisa ser atacado não é o comunismo, os jihadistas ou os radicais. O problema que nós precisamos atacar é a pobreza. A pobreza alimenta o radicalismo. Se a elite continuar a pensar que a pobreza é uma coisa que só acontece para quem é preguiçoso, um dia eles vão acordar e ver que esses “preguiçosos” estão pegando em armas e estão prestes a matar todo mundo para assumir o poder. Essas pessoas com as armas na mão não estão sendo levadas pelos radicais; elas estão sendo levadas pela fome, pela necessidade, pelo desejo de igualdade, de justiça. Se a elite não consegue organizar a sociedade de uma forma mais justa, mais equânime, então ela vai ter que arcar com as consequências: terá de se retrair, vai ter que se defender em bunkers, cercada de aparatos de segurança. Mas espere ai, isso já está acontecendo, em muitas partes do mundo!

A elite está sitiada, porque não consegue desenvolver uma sociedade mais justa para todos.

O foco da elite precisa mudar nesse triângulo amoroso, tem que se distanciar da luta contra os radicais e se aproximar das massas empobrecidas, tem que erradicar a pobreza.
A assistência médica universal básica é um mínimo que é fornecido na maioria dos países para toda a população. Até os Estados Unidos está pouco a pouco se dando conta de que isso é uma coisa certa do ponto de vista moral.

Essa assistência médica universal precisa ser melhorada, no Brasil e em toda a parte. Devemos colocar a nossa energia em melhorar a assistência médica, em torna-la mais eficiente, torna-la mais barata, ao invés de tentar negar que isso seja uma necessidade básica da comunidade. Quanto melhor a assistência médica, menos espaço existe para os radicais, para a Irmandade Muçulmana, para o Estado Islâmico da Síria, menos espaço vai se deixar para que se possa lutar contra a elite, e vai se preencher esse espaço dando melhores condições de vida para todos.

Fazer uma mudança no sentido de promover educação para as massas não é difícil, a única coisa que se precisa fazer é apoiar efetivamente investimentos em melhores escolas, valorizar os professores, tornar as escolas mais acessíveis para todo mundo, apoiar as iniciativas de ensino com base na internet. Existem milhões de alternativas diferentes que se pode fazer para promover a educação em todos os níveis. Então o que é preciso fazer é apoiar os políticos que promovem essas iniciativas da educação e promover essas iniciativas diretamente, com o trabalho voluntário, por exemplo, dando seu tempo e sua energia para programas educacionais.

Um relacionamento amoroso precisa ser nutrido. Isso é verdade também para os relacionamentos no trabalho, que precisam ser nutridos e para a sociedade em geral. Se você acha que o amor é uma coisa que não precisa de manutenção, é isso que faz com que apareçam os rivais. É isso que faz com que se forme um triângulo amoroso. Se você colocar o seu foco na pessoa que você ama, ao invés do seu rival, você não vai perder a pessoa que você ama. Se você focar o seu cliente ao invés do seu competidor, você vai manter o seu cliente cada vez mais fiel, cada vez mais usando os serviços e os produtos que você oferece. Se nós todos focarmos a nossa energia em melhorar a qualidade de vida das pessoas em geral e acabarmos com a pobreza ao invés de lutar contra os revolucionários, é isso que vai fazer com que a vida seja melhor para todo mundo.

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