Generally speaking, I’m a creature of habit. And generally speaking, I tend to listen to Saturday Live on Radio 4. I find eavesdropping on conversations with the Reverend Richard Coles a massive weekend treat. Just a few weeks ago, he was having such a chat with Jon Ronson. Ronson – if you’ve never come across him – is a gifted journalist with an insightful observational style who, among many accomplishments, recently wrote a book on psychopaths. It was his experience of psychopaths and psychopathic behaviour that they were talking about.
He was using phrases such as ‘lack of guilt’, ‘ lack of empathy’and ‘victimisation of others’ as he added colour to the research he’d undertaken while writing the book. He’d interviewed both a prisoner in Broadmoor and chief executive of a business – making the point that psychopaths aren’t all cold blooded killers.
The interview struck a note because the personality traits Ronson described reminded me of people I’ve come across in life. People who were scarily charming on the one hand – and frighteningly removed from their actions on the other. I think we all know that being successful in any organisation is about getting things done, with impossible deadlines and even more impossible goals. Which is why difficult decisions that involve human beings can go unchecked.
The take home message for me was a personal note to remember that the drive to achieve can sometimes mean we focus on following the proper process. As difficult as decisions are, we shouldn’t forget that people have emotions and don’t conveniently or easily slot into processes.
A timely reminder in these tough times.