So Luis Suarez is banned from football for four months for a repeat of past workplace behaviour most of us would class as outrageous. Many who enjoy football would acknowledge Suarez is capable of true genius only a handful of people in his field of work are. Yet he has a fundamental repulsive flaw. I don’t know Suarez but he is probably far from evil; His flaw is deep rooted, probably in his early childhood, impulsive and hugely damaging to himself, his colleagues and the profession in which he works.
Even with television, a worldwide audience, replays and sponsor pressure there are many close to him who deny or defend his actions – probably delaying the time he seeks help for his behaviour. Without TV his behaviour would probably go largely unnoticed, other than by his victims, and those close to him some of whose morale and belief in the team would also be affected. In-fact there may be multiple other instances which have not come to light – and without sanctions which TV has enabled may have been many more. He is such a performer though that his paymasters – at club and country have generally been over indulgent about his behaviour – although Liverpool may now have reached the end of that road.
This leads me to wonder how many organisations harbour talented but fundamentally flawed staff. How many of these are sufficiently adept at managing upwards and plastering over their more destructive traits that they go unchallenged? How often are the negative consequences on the organisation, other colleagues and actually the individual themselves overlooked – either wilfully or carelessly.
This is not to say I am advocating a witch hunt on maverick talent – in many organisations there is a need for this. I myself would probably fall into the occasionally maverick bracket.
However there are a few ground rules that have to be in place in organisation:
- Don’t be so overawed with the positive you fail to see the negative;
- There is a core of values and beliefs you should not stray from at any cost;
- Set expectations clearly and early in the day – leave no doubt;
- Make sure there is a way to surface negative impacts of behaviour on the organisation or individuals – early and easily – don’t just assume it’s easy for others;
- If there are hard conversations to be had have them early – it seems hard and risky at the time but may well be the saving of the individual and your organisation;
- Consider whether coaching or training will work where you have problems.
On the World Cup I am left wondering does Luis Suarez have a place in British football at all or could we still have been watching his incredible talent had more been done to tackle this earlier.