JANEK MÄGGI ON AIVAR MÄE'S HARASSMENT SCANDAL: A TOP EXECUTIVE MUST BE PRIM AND PROPER, BUT MOST CHARISMATIC LEADERS HAVE A DISTURBING DISABILITY
, Eesti Päevaleht
Aivar Mäe cannot be acquitted or convicted by the press, but top executives should never do anything that could be used to blackmail them. Don't take bribes, don't make weird comments to people of the opposite sex or the same sex as you, don't have a mistress or, even worse, more than one at the same time.
The endgame is near if you have skeletons in your closet or if showing your real face would cause you irreparable damage.
A top executive must be prim and proper, but most charismatic leaders have a disturbing disability, which is why their enemies cannot and do not want to see them as decent human beings. The people who are on your side and have something to gain will forgive you, even approve and justify. Until they also become disillusioned and attack, as can often be seen in political parties.
There is a lot of hypocrisy in the public: we're all drunks, thieves, philanderers, slackers and birdbrains, to paraphrase Brother Johannes from the popular film The Last Relic. However, we don't allow our leaders to behave in the same way. They always have to toe the line, even if the rest of us are rolling in the mud. A lot more is permissible for the bull than for Jupiter.
If you do something that you don't want to become public knowledge, you've really dug yourself into a hole as it's likely to come back and bite you at some point. In the best case scenario, you'll be fired, and in the worst case sent to prison.
Since the people you have trusted with that secret of yours that should never see the light of day can sell you down the river, and even if you take this a betrayal, they will take advantage of your shared secret for their own interests or to get revenge. They could be out to gain something or simply angry about your fully unbiased and honest behaviour, e.g. you fired someone.
Life in the private sector is easier, as people are not appointed to and removed from office under public pressure.
Top executives in the public sector, who earn most of their salary in dividends of fame, are immensely more vulnerable.
A single wrong sentence can force a minister to resign. "He, an immigrant's son from the pink party, should be extremely careful" said Minister Jürgen Ligi about Jevgeni Ossinovski, a minister in the same government, and was quickly shown the door.
Minister of Public Administration Mihhail Korb said,"I don't support NATO membership!" and that's all it took, his work as a minister was done. There is no need to do anything, to touch anyone or something like that. It is enough if too many decision-makers – who bow to the pressure of public opinion – find your words inappropriate; it's game over.
Managing a work collective is no different from governing a state, as there are many parties in the organisation that form coalitions from time to time – one of them is in the opposition while the other continues to govern.
Large organisations, such as theatres or banks, factories or churches, are brimming with intrigue and conflict. People are controversial, contentious, greedy. Better to admit it than deny it. The captain must always be able to steer the ship, even if there's a raging storm outside and a mutiny on board.
Public self-defence may help close the case. A well-phrased apology or explanation that comes across as sincere and believable is a miracle drug. As a rule, silence is worse than a detailed explanation of what happened or didn't happen. But it must be honest.
A written text is better than a verbal one, as a stressed out person may lose their cool on TV and say something stupid or even lie. Prince Andrew had to end his public career as a member of the British royal family as a result of such an interview.
Random sexual relations may be provoked if someone is being recruited as an agent. Deniss Metsavas, who was convicted of treason, was interviewed for US publication The Atlantic and told them how Russian intelligence agencies trapped him – they had collected compromising information on him, which they used to force him to spy for Russia. He met a woman in a nightclub in Smolensk and spent a night with her, but as he was leaving in the morning, he was approached by men in plain clothes who introduced themselves as police officers and showed him a written statement, where the woman accused him of rape. They also had a short recording of Metsavas in bed with the woman. In Russia, he would have faced a 15-year prison sentence if convicted and, realising that he'd been trapped, Metsavas agreed to cooperate.
Recruitment also occurs in a work collective. The top executive can say that they were joking. They could say that they were blackmailed. It may even be true. But blackmailing them because of something they said or did should never be a option, as otherwise it would be almost impossible for them to do their job.
Managing people is very difficult because they don't always agree on what is right and what is wrong. There are people who would shoot those who spit on the street, while others understand murderers because they may have not been in their right mind. It is also true that the cultures of generations are different – the standards of the 1990s have been thrown out by now.
Aivar Mäe is not the only top executive in Estonia who is facing accusations or who people would like to accuse. There are those who have or don't have evidence against them, which may or may not be true, but they keep on working calmly or nervously because their time hasn't come yet. But there's an axe hanging above your head if you've given reason for it.
However, the Bible offers consolation to those who are accused but who are not guilty. Proverb 26:2 says: "Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere."