Well known Conservative American columnist and writer David Brooks has written a piece in the New York Times entitled ‘I miss Obama’. What is going on? That is the land of polarised political positions with no very good track record of saying nice things of the other party or political spectrum.
David Brooks, by all accounts a generous soul who has written about Character many times, describes Obama with words such as ethos of integrity, humility, good manners, elegance, high personal standards (extended to people he has hired), care and respect for the dignity of others time, soundness in the decision making process, grace under pressure and a resilient sense of optimism. Wow! Can I have these in my epitaph please?
I am impressed with Brooks. I have to say not for the first time. But what strikes me is that that litany of virtues is so alien to the language of business, so divorced from the lexicon of Organizational Development and corporatized HR practices, that makes me shiver and wonder: when did we loose all that in the ‘business world’?
We have corporatized the basic human emotions and robo-tized the ‘people language’ in the corporation to the point of no return so that a ‘dialect’ has now taken over ‘normal language’.
I wish we could have performance management systems that talk about generosity, courage, compassion, tolerance, gratitude, even joy. Could you imagine what that would look like?
‘Reclaiming humanity’ may be a bit of a cliché in itself but I can’t think of a better term to describe a pending revolution in the workplace.
I refuse to see this as soft, naïve, fluffy narrative with no place in the world of the ‘business organization’. I am planning to develop this a bit further at invitation of the UK Institute of Internal Communications at which conference in May I will give a keynote.
Mr Brooks has been a wonderful reminding of the territory we all should live in. For the record, I will miss Obama too. Not my president, not my country., not a saint, not he can’t do many things more. But not a role model I am prepared to ignore, whether I am in the same political planet or not. Character above policy? Always.