Esse Quam Vidērī

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Suzanne Lucas, a fellow fan of my favorite Harry Potter character, Severus Snape, took the occasion of Alan Rickman's passing to pen "5 Management Lessons From Professor Snape." (Rickman quite memorably portrayed Snape on the big screen.)

All of these are quite good, but I am partial to the first (save for the unfortunate equation of altruism with being good):

Be virtuous instead of signaling virtue. Snape was good. He made huge sacrifices for the good of others, but he didn't run around talking about it. You know who did run around talking about how much good he was doing? Lucius Malfoy. Malfoy signaled virtue. Snape was virtuous. As a manager, simply be good. You don't need to send out press releases every time you give your employees a perk. Just give the perks.
I'll concede that, at work, where one's compensation and progress do somewhat depend on the opinions of others, that there is a time and a place to toot one's own horn. But that should be done sparingly. Constantly doing so falls under the same umbrella as "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Some of the biggest scoundrels I have ever had the misfortune of knowing made just a little bit too much of their own virtue. Consequently, even the truly virtuous can raise doubts by talking about it too much.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I heard a saying growing up that was (falsely) attributed to Mark Twain, to wit;

"The more he talked of his honesty, the tighter I clutched my wallet."

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


That sounds like Twain.

I could have used it when I was a teen, and my spine hadn't calcified. I was working the register at McDonald's, and a coworker wanted to do the same, using mine, of course. When I hesitated, he acted hurt, and said, "You don't trust me?" While I wasn't exactly a sucker for things like that, he caught me off-guard enough that I let him take a couple of customers, against my better judgement.

My register was short ten bucks after that shift and it was back to the grill for me.


Snedcat said...

C. Andrew writes, "The more he talked of his honesty, the tighter I clutched my wallet." The most famous version of that might be from Ralph Waldo Emerson. The quote itself is short and pithy:

"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."

As usual with Emerson, in context it's a pearl amid wordy words of wordiness:

"See what allowance vice finds in the respectable and well-conditioned class. If a pickpocket intrude into the society of gentlemen, they exert what moral force they have, and he finds himself uncomfortable, and glad to get away. But if an adventurer go through all the forms, procure himself to be elected to a post of trust, as of senator, or president, — though by the same arts as we detest in the house-thief, — the same gentlemen who agree to discountenance the private rogue, will be forward to show civilities and marks of respect to the public one: and no amount of evidence of his crimes will prevent them giving him ovations, complimentary dinners, opening their own houses to him, and priding themselves on his acquaintance. We were not deceived by the professions of the private adventurer, — the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons; but we appeal to the sanctified preamble of the messages and proclamations of the public sinner, as the proof of sincerity. It must be that they who pay this homage have said to themselves, On the whole, we don't know about this that you call honesty; a bird in the hand is better." ("Worship," in The Conduct of Life, 1860.)

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for the possible source.

Had Emerson written today, perhaps he might have been known as Ralph "tl;dr" Emerson.