Rumors of My Psychopathy Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

by | Feb 13, 2023

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it”. Upton Sinclair

There is a phenomenon of organizational dynamics that is getting much more attention again lately called Fear of Finding Out (FOFO). Borrowed from medical psychology to explain the barriers that prevent someone seeking a diagnosis for a suspected illness, the term has increasingly been used in an organizational context.
FOFO has been used to explain why officials (government, regulatory, corporate boards, etc.) may be reluctant to investigate an issue because it may reveal potential failures and lapses on their part.

The term has also been used to explain why organizations may be reluctant to explore how work is actually being conducted, as opposed to how it is represented in metrics, rules, procedures, or even mission/vision statements. There is comfort in the representations of work; they can provide a social, and potentially, a legal defense. There is also comfort and convenience in accepting the explanations of leaders who, to the unbiased observer, appear to be violating company policies and compliance requirements.

Revealing the realities of work, or exposing a toxic leader, can bring unfavorable information that requires action and challenges the comfortable status quo and carefully crafted worldview. It can make deniability difficult, it requires action, and potentially raises difficult questions.

It becomes even more difficult if those with oversight responsibility have a personal relationship with a leader who obviously needs to be reigned in. They simply cannot see that, figuratively, he has no clothes.

Major credit for this content to James Pomeroy, Global Health and Safety Director, ARUP

Stay Courageous,