Time and time again, the subject of a glaring disparity between the incomes of skilled workers and those of top managers is bandied about in the press, and that managers' salaries are totally overblown and inflated. After all, this difference is no longer "only" 25 times as it used to be, but 200 times or more. Outrageous! A scandal!
The amount itself cannot be outrageous, but at best whether it is fair or not, really earned or "cheated".
As I always say, it's important to ask the right questions. And the right question in this case is not "Is it outrageous?" but "Is the value appreciated?".
It is quite simple: The income should correspond to the value that one delivers. Whoever delivers a high value may also earn a high income. Anyone who creates a value of one billion for the owners of a company gets a fair exchange, a fair consideration, with a salary of 50 million.
In the discussion about managers' salaries, it is often argued that everyone, including the other employees, has earned this billion. But you have to look very closely. When managers' salaries were still 25 times those of employees, the world was a different place than it is today. The use of IT, robots, lean management and many other improvements made middle management in companies superfluous. At the same time, there are many jobs today that are not as highly specialized as they used to be. Employees - you may like this fact or not - have become easier to replace.
So anyone moving in the labor market should be aware of these basic issues:
- Is there a market for my activity?
- How well can I serve this market?
- How easily replaceable am I?
Creativity: Capital of the Future
It also pisses me off that nurses and police officers, for example, are so poorly paid, even though they perform such an enormously important job. But they are easily replaceable, unlike a Ronaldo, for example, who "played" immense values for his clubs. We have to get used to the fact that structural change will mean that in the future those who can design and implement what they have designed will be paid the highest wages - in short, the creative people, in the literal sense of the word, the producers. Knowledge alone or being able to do simple things no longer brings any great advantages. That's why there are millions of people in Germany who work for minimum wage: Because it is the simplest activities that are easily replaceable.
People would be well advised to focus on developing themselves. Increasing their personal value. As Jim Rohn used to say:
If you work hard at your job, you can make a living. If you work hard at your value, you can make a fortune.
In the future, the big profits will be created by those who are creative and flexible and thus achieve something special; no longer just by those who had good grades or just work diligently. We will have a different results orientation. Time clocks that only count attendance will disappear or remain for the most menial tasks that are only accounted for by time.
We should work to ensure that even education is designed differently in order to bring people more into the courage and power of creativity from the very beginning: In the courage to be unique and the courage to dissolve thought structures and to be creative.
Merit does not need justification!
Last weekend I participated in the congress cité de la réussite. It was already the 25th event of this kind at the Sorbonne in Paris with the motto "Understanding, improving and transforming the world through dialogue and debate." There, I witnessed an interview with Carlos Ghosn, president of Renault. He was also asked what he thinks of this income development and how he himself copes with the fact that he earns so much money and others so little.
He replied that this was the wrong question. As the head of a large corporation, he asks himself questions like, "How do I manage to develop my company, move it forward and stay ahead?" And he said:
"I'm willing to pay whatever price is necessary for the best. I want the best people in my team. Because they support each other, and because the best also give the best guarantee for the future. If I want my team to be number one in Formula One, I won't negotiate the driver's fee."
In Germany, people are already talking about the war of tal ents, the battle for talented people, which is the result of demographic developments on the one hand and the fact that there are very few people who are creative and courageous enough to achieve something really special on the other. Technological development will continue to contribute to the fact that very few people will continue to earn very much in the future.
Therefore, it is important for us to pay attention to this: Life is not just about whether something is fair or not. And it is idiotic to regulate whether a manager is "allowed" to earn 25 times, 100 times or 200 times as much. The important thing is to fight the fraudulent excesses, because they also exist, especially because there are fewer and fewer entrepreneurs and more and more employees sitting on boards these days. Where things are fair - fair in the sense of fair exchange, the fair exchange of value for remuneration - people also deliver good work. And then they should also be allowed to earn what they want, and what remains fair.
So the right question is not, "How can I stop some people from earning more than others?" Our question must always be, "How do we get as many people as possible to increase their personal value that they offer as a service?" Then we would no longer have a minimum wage debate, because it should be possible for everyone to increase their personal value above 3, 4, 5 euros and even above 8 euros 50. And those who think further along this path and continue to develop throughout their lives also have opportunities to advance into very high regions of fair income.