Recent events in politics and business again show the importance of personal integrity in everyday affairs, especially at the leadership level. Our analysis of the psychology of integrity suggests that the topic, although a crucial element in human affairs, is somewhat more paradoxical than it might appear at first blush.In Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, Carl Jung describes meeting Albert Schweizer (1875-1965), the legendary theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician known for founding a hospital for the poor in Gabon. Schweizer received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, and by anyone’s standards qualifies as a great moral figure. Jung reported that he spent two days prying at Schweizer, trying to find the neurotic underpinnings for his moral nobility, and he could find nothing. Then Jung noted that he met Schweizer’s wife, and Schweizer’s narcissism was revealed. Similarly, Erik Erikson wrote a psycho-biographical study of Mohandas Ghandi, the “great-souled father” of modern India, the man who invented non-violent civil disobedience as a way of protesting political oppression, and virtually everyone’s prototype of a great moral figure. Erikson was so disgusted by Gandhi’s hypocrisy and narcissism that he almost abandoned the project. Mother Theresa similarly fails to hold up well under close moral scrutiny.Read More »
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Pyramid of Success and Personality
June 4th, 2010 marked the passing of basketball coaching legend John Wooden. As many people are aware, Wooden was known as the “Wizard of Westwood” for his unmatched success as coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team, leading them to a record 88 consecutive victories and 10 national championships among other accomplishments. What is less widely publicized is the strategy that Wooden designed and deployed in order to recruit, assess, select, develop, and mentor his players into successful individuals on and off the court. This aspect of the coach’s legend interestingly establishes him as not only an innovator in the sport of basketball, but also a pioneer in the realm of talent management. Read More »
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Working-Class Hero or Spectacular Case of Derailment?
Last week, Steven Slater, the former JetBlue flight attendant acted out the fantasy of a large contingent of employees who have had enough of on-the-job stresses. After a heated exchange with a passenger (an exchange that is now more in doubt than previously reported), he grabbed the PA and let out a few choice words, grabbed his stuff (including a few beers), and stormed off of the plane via the emergency exit slide announcing that he quit. Fortunately, the plane was on the tarmac and near the gate. Nobody was injured. In the aftermath of this instant-classic example of how to quit one’s job, Mr. Slater has garnered the adulation of many, as evidenced by the numerous Facebook fan pages with thousands of friends and any number of blogs on the internet. Many have romanticized his actions, making him out to be a man who stood up for himself, didn’t take abuse from anyone, or had just had enough and decided it was time to move on. However, the reality of the situation is quite a bit different. Within days, Mr. Slater had retained a lawyer, and was asking for his position with JetBlue back, saying he loved his job, the airline, and he wanted to return to work. His lawyer offered a number of explanations for his behavior, including the stress of the job, an injury sustained in the course of the flight, and a confrontation with an unruly passenger (which is, at this time, unsubstantiated by any of the passengers). Mr. Slater’s behavior is actually a perfect example of derailing behavior. He lost his cool under stress, made an emotionally charged decision (the Excitable derailer), and executed his decision in a dramatic and attention-seeking manner (the Colorful derailer). Despite all the adoration lavished upon him in the aftermath, Mr. Slater quickly regretted his decision and is now contemplating a lawsuit to retain the position he so sensationally abandoned. A working-class hero sticking it to the man, or a case of derailment played out in dramatic fashion? The preponderance of evidence at this time points to the latter. Jarrett Shalhoop Senior Consultant Hogan Assessment Systems