On Saturday night, I saw Woody Allen’s new film about a woman named Jasmine who, following her husband’s arrest and ruin for defrauding his investors a la Madoff, seeks in vain to rebuild her life in San Francisco. Instead, she devolves to a desperate, borderline state with presumably little hope of recovery. What’s revealed late in the movie is that she had brought about her husband’s downfall by squealing to the FBI about his business affairs. She did this impulsively upon finding out directly from him that he had fallen in love with a young woman. This, threw her over the edge after she had ignored his obvious affairs with other women for years much as she had ignored his dubious business dealings.
Much can be learned from this movie, especially about personality types and expected behaviors. Take for example the Hogan Development Survey http://www.hoganassessments.com/content/hogan-development-survey-hds. The results of this personality assessment, which focuses on derailing behaviors, inform us about how an individual will behave under stress and under extreme stress. It is reasonably common for people to withdraw under stress demonstrating behaviors such as being dutiful, exactly what happened in the movie. Under extreme stress, the same person can be bold, mischievous or overly imaginative, taking ill considered risks that will be regretted later.
Similarly, we also know that values play a key role in personal behavior and are unlikely to change http://stangercarlson.com/2013/07/29/the-talent-trap-values-you-cant-change/
. Jasmine’s values followed her to San Francisco and guided her ill-fated attempts at recovery. Like stress behaviors, values can be assessed.
In developing leaders, growing talent and shaping culture, it is critical that executives and employees have the self-awareness to understand their stress behaviors and avoid the potentially damaging effects of demonstrating these behaviors in the workplace. It is similarly critical for companies to hire employees with the right values. Stronger programs that drive to both of these outcomes are long overdue.