What can we learn from the 10 Leper Principle?

Do you say ‘thanks’?

Relax now. I’m not going all religious on you. If I pretended to be religious it would be too much of a stretch, even for me. But, I think that we can learn management lessons from all sorts of places. And one source is the ‘Parable of the 10 Lepers’. Can I assume that you are familiar with the basic storyline and skip the details? So, how could this apply to you?

New Job: Some time ago, I helped a guy who was trying to get a CEO role in the public sector. It was 20+ years since he’d been to an interview and his CV was awful. I didn’t know him from Adam – but a friend said he was a ‘good guy’ and I agreed to meet him. That initial 10 minute meeting morphed into two interviews and a torturous CV clinic. We got there in the end and he got the job. Happy days.

Clock Forward: One year later I met the guy and the conversation ran along the following lines:

Oh, it’s yourself. How are you?”
“I’m grand”.
“By the way, I got that job”
“Yes, I’d heard”
“And I’ve bought you a bottle of wine. In fact I bought you a bottle of wine twice, but I keep drinking it”.

Not quite knowing what would constitute an appropriate response, I said something like “Don’t worry about it, all the best” and moved on. Afterwards I thought about all the clever things that I should have said. The bottle of wine never arrived. I wonder who will help him the next time he is applying for a job?

10 Lepers: In complete contrast, I recently received two deliveries of wine. One was a ‘thank you’ for a similar mission, where someone applied for a CEO role and she was successful. The other one was for working with someone going through a career transition. Please don’t misinterpret this as some sort of greedy interest in gifts. I’d hate to think that I could be bought for a couple of bottles of wine (I seldom drink wine, but that’s hardly the point). If someone does you a favour, you have to mark the spot and mark it properly. In previous blogs we’ve touched on the idea that being labeled as miserable is the biggest no-no in the Irish culture. No matter how solid you are on other fronts, being tight winds the clock back to zero. It’s a fatal error of judgment. No one likes being taken for granted. So, who do you need to say thanks to?

Paul Mooney

Ps Lighter note: I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a coffin. An hour later and they’re still walking about with it. I thought to myself, “They’ve lost the plot …..”

Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact paul@tandemconsulting.ie and we will add them to the mailing list.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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