Strengths and Weaknesses


Harry was not a well man

He was in a terrible state of health.  Cancer had eaten away at his digestive tract, it was so bad that surgeons had removed three-quarters of his stomach.

He was constantly in and out of hospital, surviving on a diet of caffeine, nicotine and blood transfusions. A friend’s daughter described him as:

small, shrunken, sick . . .  looking sort of like a very sad dog

It was only a question of time before Harry died

If you were Harry’s employer, what would you do?

It isn’t politically correct… but Harry was a liability, more dead than alive, you could hardly have him wandering around the office. He could only work for a few hours a day and then he felt dreadful again.

What sort of organisation would really want Harry on their books? The only fair thing to do was pension him off.

The truth about Harry

Harry, or to give him his full name, Harry Lloyd Hopkins, was a strategic and diplomatic genius. He had an eerie ability to know exactly when to force his point and when to back off,  and the way he could talk to people was uncanny.

During the Second World War, Harry was President Roosevelt’s constant aide and companion.

  • Harry persuaded Roosevelt to help the British by supplying troops and materials for the war in Europe
  • Harry supported Vannevar Bush in his attempts to fund the Manhattan project
  • Harry worked with the Russians to secure the first United Nations Conference in San Francisco.

Harry may have been a very sick man, but his lack of time and energy forced him to focus on the key issues. Winston Churchill once called him “Lord Root of the Matter”.

How would your organisation have dealt with Harry?

Would you have focused on his illness and retired him off, or recognised his skill and kept him on?

Rather than worrying about developing people’s weaknesses, perhaps there is some merit in playing to their strengths.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of James Lawther – View the original post

About the author

James Lawther James Lawther is an operations manager. For 20 years (and a bit more) he has worked for large organisations in all sorts of operational roles, from counting frozen peas to chasing tax avoiders. Currently he works as Head of Operational Excellence for a FTSE 100 financial services company.

Read other posts by James Lawther

Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Published On: 13th Feb 2015 - Last modified: 5th Mar 2019
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