Borgen: Rivalries and Power

By Eduardo Press July 3, 2022 – 09:11

The appearance of a new season of the Borgen series after ten years leaves us with several interesting points to reflect on.

The order of the following points does not indicate importance or priority.

We will focus on an aspect that seems to us to be one of the axes of this new season: the rivalries at the top of the institutions.

The passing of the years generated the appearance of a new generation that disputes the power of the previous generation. The characters (and the respective actors) are ten years older. They are the same but they are not the same, both in their physical appearance and in their existential, political and work situations. Those mature are more mature and those youngsters are adults with their little children and their new families.

The functions at the top of the government are carried out by different people, even though they are the same people who rotate their places, as is often the case in coalition governments.

The previous prime minister was replaced by a younger person and now holds the ministry of foreign affairs. In an important media outlet for fiction, the series shows something similar, young people occupying managerial positions and older people as subordinates.

The rivalry between the authorities of a politically autonomous country (Greenland) and dependent on the central government for its foreign relations and defense since it belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark.

The classic rivalries between the “great powers” are also present.

A very interesting theme that this series also shows is the internal rivalry in a leader between her lifelong convictions, the economic interests of a community and the political interests of her party.

Rivalries in companies

For this note we talk about rivalry in cases where it is presented in a confrontational way, someone seeks control over another, prevent their actions or directly suppress it.

In such a way that attitudes and actions lose sight of the interests of the organization and are at the service of personal interests. Clearly this is not good for the company.

The natural and expected ambition to progress, learn, grow, to rejoice in one’s own achievements and those of the group, does not harm, it adds.

Now we talk about the situations in which the feeling of rivalry prevails over any other. Pity. Subtraction

We are referring to the attitudes that harm, that of those who do not care about the consequences of going over others to impose their own idea and neutralize the appearance of different ones. These attitudes generate equally intense reactions and in the opposite direction.

Personal rivalries make us lose the notion of the common good, of the sense of belonging, defending one’s own exclusively and attacking “what is foreign”.

This generates within the company the formation of bands, factions, “internal” that do not favor the operation at all. A broken company is a failing company, an inefficient company with immeasurable hidden costs.

As is well shown in Borgen in the case of a government, companies and/or their directors also have their convictions, in their culture, in their traditions, in their prestige, in their trajectory.

Many times in this globalized world, with levels of competition unthinkable a few years ago, commercial issues arise that shake such convictions and rival commercial interests. These are difficult decisions to make because there is no one right answer that can satisfy all parties to everything.

The same is true of more intimate and private issues such as family/work rivalry. There are not many who can reach a balance between both interests by themselves.

To do?

  • First of all, be aware that this is happening. When one of the participants in the confrontations is the highest authority, the situation is more complicated. Even so, the highest authority has a trusted group or an advisor who could help raise awareness.
  • Secondly, they must be made visible, not swept “under the rug”, the situation alone will not resolve itself. Rivalries are intangible but their effects are very “concrete”.
  • The participation of others who help is necessary, they can be from the same company or external consultants with the aim of generating another type of rapprochement between rivals who see the other more as an enemy than as a colleague.
  • Appeal to the intelligence and energy of ambition to channel the desire for power not to the side of domination but to the other aspect of power that is “doing things”.
  • Surely, when put to work on the situation, common interests can be found that benefit the company’s projects.
  • If this objective is not achieved, managers will have to take measures to prevent this situation from being sustained over time. If it were to continue, the result would be negative, a bad work environment, with a strong decrease in commitment, demotivation and great inefficiency that would quickly spread outwards, customers and suppliers.

Reader friend: Are you aware of the presence of unhealthy rivalries in your company? If you detect them, what do you do about it?

*In collaboration with Ms. Sofía Florín, specialists in Organizational Psychology, Entrepreneurs and Family Businesses.

Borgen: Rivalries and Power