The Sunday Times printed an editorial by UCL psychology professor Adrian Furnham that’s so shocking in the blatant ableism it endorses that I’m really at a loss for words. Here’s the conclusion:
Psychiatrists have grouped those with personality disorders into three similar clusters: dramatic, emotional and erratic types; odd and eccentric types; and anxious and fearful types.
There are three important questions. The first is how you spot these people at selection so you can reject them. This is easier with some disorders than others. It is virtually impossible to spot the psychopath or the obsessive-compulsive person at an interview. Clearly, you need to question those who have worked with them in the past to get some sense of their pathology, which many are skilled at hiding.
The second is, given that they have already been appointed, how to manage them. There is, alas, no simple method that converts the antagonist into a warm, open, honest individual or the disinhibited worker into a careful, serious and dutiful employee. Sometimes it is a matter of damage limitation.
The third is how to rid your workplace of these maladaptive personalities, and that is the toughest question of all.
Yes, we should definitely fire all the people who the DSM might classify as ‘odd and eccentric types’. Like Steve Jobs, for example:
A search of the Nexis news database turned up the word “obsessive” in connection with a Steve Jobs-related article a total of 68 times in the past week.
Numerous news reports have noted Mr. Jobs’ “obsessive” attention to detail and perfection in the products he brought to life. Indeed, when you get past the tribute articles and dig deeper into Mr. Jobs’ past, you find stories of him being tyrannical and harsh as a leader, paying exacting attention to details that he undoubtedly paid other top executives to monitor. But the vision of Mr. Jobs that we seem to get is of someone who just can’t help but be involved in every single minute step of the process of product development and marketing.
Clearly too odd to be successful, that one! Get rid of him!
(Thanks for the tip, N!)