Over this week’s podcast series in Adventures in Compliance, I have used stories from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, mining each story for themes and lessons related to the compliance professional, leadership and business ethics. In today’s offering, I consider The Veiled Lodger. It is one of the shortest stories in this volume and one of the clearest which shows the influence Holmes can bring to bear on the participants in the tale. The final problem solved informs today’s discussion of empathy in compliance.

Holmes is visited by Mrs. Merrilow, a landlady from South Brixton who has an unusual lodger who never shows her face as it has been hideously mutilated. This woman, Mrs. Ronder, carries a terrible secret but will not involve the clergy or the police and will only talk to Holmes.

Holmes and Watson travel to see Mrs. Ronder and she is wearing her veil. The mutilation was caused by a planned murder gone awry. She and her lover, Leonardo, used a circus lion to murder her husband and the lion then turned on her, severely disfiguring her. Mrs. Ronder could not bring herself to implicate Leonardo in her husband’s murder at the inquest and is only now telling this story because she believes that she will soon die. Ever since the night of the incident, she has lived alone and veiled. Holmes can only offer advice in this situation; realizing that Mrs. Ronder is contemplating suicide, he reminds her that her life is worth something as an example of patient suffering in an impatient world. She responds to this by lifting her veil, and the sight is ghastly. However (and this is where the empathy comes in) Holmes see a bottle of prussic acid on her mantle and tells her “Keep your hands off it.” A few days later,  Holmes receives a bottle of prussic acid from Mrs. Ronder. In considering what Holmes told her, she apparently thought better of it.

Compliance Takeaways

  1. Empathy is an important habit for any CCO or compliance practitioner to not only practice but also master.
  1. Engaging in empathy does not mean shying away from difficult conversations.
  1. Do you look for empathy in the hiring process?
  2. One way that empathy manifests itself is courtesy.
  3. People rarely think of courtesy and respect as leadership skills but if you can bring these to bear in your compliance practice, you can garner greater influence as not only someone who cares but someone who cares and gets things accomplished.

I hope you have enjoyed another Holmes themed week as much as I have enjoyed rereading the stories and bringing the compliance and leadership insights to you.

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