Human behaviour laws are unfair. Positive or negative consequences are disproportionate to the causes. Get used to it as leader.

An old patient was concerned about her hair. A nurse came in at 7 am to put colour in her hair. ‘Nurses are saints’, she said. All nurses? That’s unfair. (A real example from one of our Viral Change programmes).

We have a reasonable level of trust between us. We help each other. But I have just let you down. Just once. Trust goes out of the window. This is unfair. How can trust be so vulnerable. (Because it is).

The doctor was hesitant, perhaps confused, maybe she had a bad day, but she missed a vital sign. Doctors don’t really know what is going on. There is a big problem in this hospital. You can see how everybody is so stressed. That is unfair.

Twelve nurses in the hospital ward were kind, attentive and considerate. One was terrible, uncaring, dismissive, awful. The nursing staff in this ward have an attitude problems. (All? But have just said…) That is unfair.

Again and again human behaviours and human emotions are not linear. We love unconditionally with very little objectivity. We hate deeply for perhaps a small feature.

These are non linear maths. We are stuck with them. This maths maybe needed to (be seen as running) run a brilliant organization out of a small set of positive behaviours or a dysfunctional organization out of a few bad apples. With these stats,’a few bad apples’ has no meaning. ‘Few’ is all you need to create havoc. In traditional, linear (organizational) maths, a few bad apples is just ‘a small proportion’ not to worry too much about. In our day to day non linear world, those few bad apples need to be identified and addressed. There may be more than one way, but leaving it to the comfort of ‘it is a small number’ is a bad idea.


Featured in my latest book: . Now available in paperback.

Camino is a collection of notes on leadership, initially written as Daily Thoughts, started years ago as a way of talking to myself. Camino, the Spanish for road, or way, reflects on leadership as a praxis that continuously evolves. Nobody is ever a leader. Becoming one is the real quest. But we never reach the destination. Our character is constantly shaped by places and journeys, encounters and experiences. The only real theory of leadership is travelling. The only footprints, our actions. The only test, what we leave behind.

For a preview – take a look at: Camino – Extract Chapter 1 part 2

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