Twelve Ways to Spot Fools

The ability to identify and deal with fools protects leaders and organizations.


Foolishness has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Smart, gifted people are prime candidates for foolishness.

Twelve ways to spot fools:

  1. Believe they are right.
  2. Hate accountability and practical strategies.
  3. Love blaming and reject responsibility.
  4. Pursue personal ease rather than challenge.
  5. Expect you to adapt to them.
  6. Reject instruction.
  7. Can’t see their foolishness.
  8. Express frustrations quickly and openly.
  9. Gossip and cut down privately while complimenting publicly.
  10. Act confidently.
  11. Enjoy talking.
  12. Despise listening.

Bonus: Fools don’t seek help, but the wise love and seek wisdom. Fools seek their own way because others are wrong and they are right.

Dealing with fools:

Stop talking:

Fools reject responsibility. Stop talking, once you realize you’re dealing with a fool. Talking doesn’t help. They love talking and are usually good at it. Talking drags you into the fool’s world.

Set limits:

Say, “You haven’t delivered agreed upon results. When I bring it up, all I hear are excuses and blaming. You don’t take responsibility. I’m giving this project to Mary.”

They’ll be angry and blame you, but don’t back down. You become the problem when you hold their feet to the fire. Fools despise you when you correct them. They feel you don’t understand.

Set limits for their good and the organization’s. Talking won’t help; limits might.

Establish consequences:

  1. Reassignments.
  2. Remove responsibilities and opportunities.
  3. Demotion.
  4. Termination.

Fools undermine your leadership, destroy morale, and reject feedback. Deal quickly and firmly with fools, regardless of their talent.

Not fools:

Work with people who receive instruction and adapt behaviors. Express patience. Help them succeed. But, those who reject instruction, limits, and consequences are fools, reject them.

How do you deal with foolishness in yourself?

How can leaders deal with fools?