Sunday, December 16, 2012

Is It Okay for Executives and Directors to Show Their Emotions?

In my humble opinion the responsibilities of executives and directors extend way beyond their organisations and boardrooms to their communities as well. Where they should use their ‘wisdom’ to support their communities; bridge the gap between academia and business; stand up for issues others can’t fight for and be role models for others, both young and old. We need our executives and directors to show empathy and understanding at work; to be ‘in-tune’ with their employees and their environment - but is it okay for them to show raw emotions as well.
I have to confess that I watched an episode of undercover boss the other day and witnessed a CEO actually cry in front of his staff when he realised how dedicated his employees were to his organisation and how so many were suffering financially during the recession. The staff seemed deeply moved by his openness and you could see them resonate with his feelings towards them, seemingly bringing them closer together as human beings.
But is there a limitation on events that someone at that level can openly show their raw emotions for? This week I’ve been faced with the newspaper headlines that have touched me so deeply. We had twenty-six innocent children and teachers massacred in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in the US. Part of the article describes how “the children were instructed to cover their eyes as they were led to safety and to a staging area in a nearby fire station, where their waiting parents could collect them. But for some parents it was a wait without end.”
It tells how Brendan Murray, aged 9, said he was in the gym with his class when they heard ‘lots of banging’. He said the teachers put the students in a nearby cupboard where they stayed huddled together for about fifteen minutes before police officers told them to leave the building. And there are emerging stories of the selfless sacrifice of the young teacher, Victoria Soto, who hid her children and faced the shooter, telling him the children were elsewhere, sacrificing her own life to save the lives of the children under her care, which even as I write this, brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.
Then another story about Mary Bowers, aged 28 who was hit by a lorry driver while cycling. The lorry driver was acquitted of dangerous driving by a jury, even though he admitted to have been speaking on his mobile phone when the incident happened. His punishment was a fine (and not a big fine at that) whereas young Mary is minimally conscious more than a year after the incident and according to her family will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life.
And then this week we’ve also had the story of Jacintha Saldanha, a dedicated nurse who was found dead after putting through a prank call from an Australian radio station at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated. It’s been reported that she left three suicide notes, including one criticising hospital management – though senior management claim they responded with support and understanding, telling her that no blame was attached to her.
There are a few common themes for me with these stories, firstly there is never a right time for them to happen, but to happen days before the Christmas and festive holidays must just add to the unimaginable pain that those involved have to carry.
Second I have absolutely no connection with any of these events, and don’t know the people involved even remotely – yet I feel so much sadness and pain for them.
People look at business owners and executives to set an example, to be role models and to use their knowledge and wisdom to set the standards that will make this world a better place and I just wonder if were doing anything close to enough.
In some countries if you don’t have the money, then those with basic mental health issues can’t get the attention they need – and if you add this to a nation with liberal gun laws you are more than likely to ensure things progress to a fatal level for some. Every time there’s a massacre of innocent people, then, just for a moment we all stop and wonder what we could do differently – without actually changing anything.
What have we done as ‘leaders’ that makes people think it is okay to speak on a mobile phone while driving in the first place? What have we done to stop encouraging presenters to think it is okay to make prank calls with absolutely no concern about the people being ‘pranked’ as long as it improves the ratings?
Is it only about money? It seems to be – yet I would suggest that with the right care and attention to the ‘detail’ all these events and God knows how many others could have been prevented.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered this year and pray that the leaders of this world, from all walks of life, business, politics and religion, can stop bickering about the ‘small’ issues and step up and make this world a truly better place.

1 comment:

  1. May I add my thoughts and prays to yours Nigel? It's an honor to read and learn from you.
    Best wishes,
    Antonio R.