People who are lonely at work are often also lonely outside

‘The over-zealous super-ego may depend on ritualised patterns of behaviour, and have great difficulty coping with the rich tapestry of human experience and beliefs – considering their own perspective to be the only true way. It is this latter conviction that leads to apparent arrogance and insensitivity.’

“I think you’ll enjoy this one, Graham, but to be honest I am not expecting miracles.” John is not usually so casual in his introductions – it actually took me a little by surprise. I am also used to arranging my own appointments directly with my clients. So, the next bit caught me even more: “I know that you’re in London most Wednesdays, so I have taken the liberty of pencilling in an early one with Lewis. You can try negotiating something else later, but it’s 7:00am this Wednesday or not at all.”

An email confirmation a little later, brought with it a 24 page report prepared by a team of psychologists as part of the firm’s leadership development programme. It appears that the individual who was giving Lewis feedback had been left in no uncertain terms as to where she could stuff her report. It was also clear that Lewis had opened eyes to a potential flaw in the Bank’s leadership programme… Not everyone believes they NEED to change, and some people who choose not to change cannot be convinced of the merits of doing so. Put differently, Lewis wasn’t changing and the bank weren’t about to make an example of him! John, the Group HRD, had the unenviable task of picking up the pieces.

Lewis makes money. He does so very effectively. He has always done so very effectively. He lives in a very nice apartment about 1km across the Thames from his office. He gets up at 5am every morning, runs 1km along the river on the South Bank, crosses and runs 1km back along the North Bank. He can tell you exactly how many strides it takes and precisely what time it will be when he enters the building. The lift takes him to his floor, where he showers and changes into City attire. Apparently he has four lockers in the management suite shower area – he keeps most of his clothes there. He is in his office by 6:15am, where he scans various news streams, reviews a few of the previous day’s deals, sends SMS messages to a number of key staff, and starts planning his day’s work.

Most people work for Lewis for about 18 months, when they will either be moved to an excellent role elsewhere in the Bank, or stop working. He runs an exceptional ‘development process’ of his own. The ‘team’ is about 20-strong.

I am not going to describe our work together. About two years later, Lewis achieved one of the personal development objectives that we had agreed in our first meeting. The entire team were at his wedding. He even suggested to John, that it would be amusing to have that report re-run one of these days.

The abstract above illustrates typical situations that arise in the course of my work with leaders – it should go without saying that permission to quote has been given, names have been changed, and a few details tweaked to preserve confidentiality.

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