When you have a guy-- let's call him Dick Fuld-- who has spent a decent chunk of his career being referred to as "The Gorilla," it's difficult to impossible to expect underlings to assume that underneath the cold-blooded exterior beats the heart of sensitive soul. When this guy is known to speak in monosyllabic sentences and random outbursts, the notion that he wants to talk about feelings is a tough sell. When it's common knowledge that, on at least one occasion, this guy has choked out the head of another company during a board meeting-- and found nothing wrong with that-- most people don't figure it's a wise idea to walk into this guy's office, wrap their arms around him and tell him "it's not your fault," as he sobs and sobs, burying his face their your shoulder. That's because most people didn't really know Dick Fuld. One former employee though, Kevin White, was lucky enough to get a taste.
Fuld then told White he was leaving Lehman. White asked whether he would be joining Barclays. "Fuck that," Fuld said. "I'm not going to Barclays. Fuck that." White said he wouldn't be going to Barclays either, and told Fuld about Spring Hill. Fuld offered to help White any way he could. Then it was time for White to leave. Fuld stood up and came around to the other side of his desk to shake White's hand. He put his hand out, then pulled it back. "Nah, fuck that," he said. "Give me a hug. I need a hug." Before White knew it, Fuld, the man whose gruff, brutish manner had given him the nickname "the Gorilla," was embracing him. Then, White said, Fuld started crying. "Kevin, you're the first person to say thank-you to me."
As we approach the two year anniversary of this moment in history, let it be a lesson to you all. Your boss may not have asked for you to touch him, he may in fact move about with an aura that signals "lay a finger on me and I'll scratch your fucking eyes out," HR may frown upon it and colleagues may back slowly out of the room in fear or sit paralyzed in their seats, needing to see what happens next-- but that's only because he can't find the words. Be it a hug, a stroke of the cheek or a rub of the belly. He wants it. Give it to him.
Dick Fuld In Exile [Fortune]