Kiss the Fool

Court jesters occasionally spoke truths and delivered bad news with humor. Modern comedians often make us laugh about injustice or social ills.

Kiss the fool who speaks the truth.

The more authority you possess, the more lies you hear.

the words leaders most need to hear are least likely to be said

The words leaders most need to hear are least likely to be said.

3 reasons team members lie to leaders:

  1. Speaking the truth reveals their own mistakes. Most people don’t relish making themselves look bad. Sometimes the person who needs to deliver bad news is the person who caused it.
  2. Immature responses from leaders. 
    1. Blowing up.
    2. Making excuses.
    3. Attacking.
    4. Blaming.
    5. Punishing.
  3. Organizational culture pressures people to pretend they have it all together. Sadly, ‘professionalism’ is often a game of fakery that everyone secretly conspires to play. Only losers step outside the box.

An exercise in candor:

This morning I’m planning a ‘candor building exercise’ that I’ve never done with a team. 

Exercise goal: lower barriers and elevate candor

  1. Pair up with a colleague. (About 16 people will participate.)
  2. Tell your partner something you aren’t  good at. “I’m not good at….”
    • Be real.
    • Don’t humblebrag, “I’m not good at taking time off.”
  3. Partner response, “I agree with you. You aren’t good at ….” Don’t comfort or disaffirm.
  4. Reverse roles.
  5. Next, ask, “What else are you not good at?”
  6. Listen, affirm, and restate.
  7. Conclude by saying to each other, “Thank you for your candor.”

Group debrief:

  1. What did you hear that you didn’t already know?
  2. How might you use this exercise with individuals you coach?
  3. What concerns about this exercise do you have?
  4. How might we address the issue of feeling like a fraud when trying on new behaviors?
  5. How might the exercise be improved?

How might leaders lower barriers and build authentic connections with team members?

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