In the middle ages, kings used to keep a jester (or ‘fool’) to entertain the court. An unofficial, but essential, part of the fool’s role was to offer contradictory opinions.
Not something many of the king’s courtiers would be brave enough to do, since criticism of an absolute monarch was a quick way to lose your head.
But it didn’t matter so much if the fool said it, because the opinion wouldn’t feel like a threat. It could be laughed off as nonsense – and, if it struck a chord, the king could simply adopt it as his own without any loss of face.
The same principle holds true in any business. The higher up an organisation you go, the more important it is to have someone around you who won’t hesitate to speak truth to power.
This blog is an excerpt from Matt’s new book; tribe: 66 ideas for building a winning culture. The book explores the characteristics that contribute to a winning workplace culture. If you fancy some bedtime reading, you can buy a copy here. Or pop into The Forge and pick one up for free (we might even make you a coffee…)