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The arrogance of power

LIQUI MOLY Managing Director Ernst Prost on the honor and burden of leadership

Dear co-entrepreneurs,

The arrogance is not always clearly visible, snobbish, conceited or with a haughty look, but sometimes well camouflaged in the clothing of power … The braggart who exploits his position to exercise borrowed power can be recognized at first sight. But what about those who play out their power in a very subtle way, even behind the scenes?

Any form of arrogance is harmful. But the arrogance by which power is exercised is worst of all, because it damages social cohesion, freedom and democracy and also harms the people concerned. “Set a man above others and you’ll find out what his character is like …” Power corrupts; power puts one’s discipline and conscience to the test every day. Only those who resist the temptations of power will do justice to their function as leaders. Continuing to work modestly and decently despite power and its many tempting opportunities requires a great character and a big heart.

I think a great many people abuse their positions to enrich themselves or to let their ego run free. On the other hand, however, there is nothing to be seen of responsibility for other people and for the big picture … Such a type of person can be found in industry as well as in politics and the media landscape, i.e. throughout our entire society, and unfortunately far too often.

When I look at us here in our company, I see none of this. I am quite sure that the major portion of our success is due to the fact that everyone here puts themselves at the service of the cause, acts to the benefit of the company, takes care of the tasks and the work, and at the same time makes sure that nobody falls by the wayside, nobody is bullied and everyone enjoys their successful activities. (If you have the time and inclination, please read my statements on this subject in yesterday’s issue of Südwest Presse.)

Yes, despite all our successes, we have remained down-to-earth, modest, cooperative and helpful. I wouldn’t allow anything else. Egoists destroy corporate structures, corporate culture, working atmosphere and the joy of a good day. Altruists make sure everyone is doing well. And responsible people care about other people as much as they care about the work as such. Being a boss is both an honor and a burden. Leading means setting a good example.

Exemplary behavior applies without reservation to all of our colleagues. Otherwise, not so many people would want to work with us or seek a business relationship with us. WE all have to set a good example. Every behavior has some sort of response. For better or worse. Every action provokes a reaction. It is up to us alone how successful we are and how cooperative, lovingly and decently we treat each other. In this respect, everyone is challenged to do their best – and if there are bad days, you just have to pull yourself together and not let yourself go.

And playing the big boss is a big no-no! No power for arrogance! To behave like a bull in a china shop or be the hater on the Internet is not humane. Cultivated and civilized togetherness, respect, tolerance – yes, and also compassion – is what distinguishes a company, a society and a nation with its values and ideals.

Best regards,

Ernst Prost