Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Embracing eccentric executives...

.... and that really is the title of this session.

Senior executives may not be normal! Research shows that there's a larger proportion of eccentric behaviour in senior executive teams. May be related to common undiagnosed, mild or hidden mental disorders.
Statistics show that we are probably working with or for someone who exhibits eccentric behaviours.

Three categories of eccentricity: impulsive, egotistical, compulsive.

Very high energy
Difficulty saying on task, exited by certain stimuli
Or extreme risk takers. Extremely innovative. Have lots of ideas
Tendency to not believe that anything takes any time. Find us obstructive.
Also forget about ideas they've had.
Not operationally focussed and maybe reckless

Tend to fixate on details. Extreme micro managers
Require huge volumes of data.
Often give impression that they don't trust you.
Low risk takers
Treat minor issues the same as major ones
Extremely consistent and reliable

Highly motivated to achieve goals
Very competitive
Low degree of empathy.
Can be aggressive or bullying. No sense of the effect they're having on others.
Psychopathic tendencies
Very focused. Not distracted by normal distractions.

Also can have combinations of above.
As you become more senior in n organisation, behaviour often becomes exacerbated.
Are we eccentric? If we believe that everyone around us is behaving strangely, it's probably us!

So how do we embrace the wonderful aspects of eccentricity, and deal with the more difficult ones?

Some organisations surround eccentrics with "handlers" ie people who've learned to deal with them.
Or contain them.
Also compensate with different characteristics. Surround impulsives with doers
Need to set boundaries, can be much more effective than trying to reason with them. If they are unreasonable by normal definitions, no point in trying to reason with them.
Don't pander to the eccentricity.

Really interesting talk, and of course we all played the game of spotting people in each category. None in our senior management team obviously!

I've got a copy of the full research paper, and there are some detail on coping strategies, embracing the positive aspects of eccentricity and dealing with some of the challenges it can create.

I'm off to study it.....

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