Who is your jester?
According to various surveys, CEOs and senior executives hunger for leadership advice.
But no one will give it to them.
Not employees nor coaches nor consultants.
Despite the fact that “Even the best-of-the-best…can dramatically improve their performance with an outside perspective weighing in.”
This is nothing new.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote about it 178 years ago.
If your life, or livelihood, depended on it, would you tell the Emperor that he’s naked?
That his strategy is misguided and his people are deluded?
You tell him what he wants to hear and to believe.
That’s how you sell anything and everything to anyone.
The famed British economist John Kay had the courage to make this clear in his latest book.
“For over ten years, I built and ran an economic consultancy business, and much of our revenue was derived from selling models to large corporate clients.
One day I asked myself a question:
If these models are helpful, why did we not build similar models for our own decision making?
The answer, I realized, was that our customers didn’t really use these models for their decision making either.
They used them internally or externally to justify decisions that they had already made.”
Which is precisely why leaders need a jester.
Someone who will speak freely without fear of execution.
Someone who will point out the obvious and highlight the absurd.
While everyone around you is telling you how great you are, the jester will point out the problems that you deny to yourself.
While others will cook up the facts for you before serving, the jester will deliver them raw.
Bottom line: The jester will help you see.
And seeing is the key to success.
Seeing ignites insight.
And insight is what prompts action.
Goethe wrote, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
Make no mistake: The world of work is overflowing with talent.
Genius is required to be a leader in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.
So I ask you, geniuses.
Who is your jester?