By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to conduct your business with greater transparency.
Turn your company into a nudist colony. That’s what Hal Rosenbluth did.
And his travel agency business grew 75-fold in 15 years: from a $20 million company to $1.5 billion company and then to a $6 billion company 10 years later.
“Figuratively speaking, we operate a nudist colony where every last nook and cranny is bared to our clients,” Rosenbluth writes in his book The Customer Comes Second. “Fig leaves are banned at our company. We believe there can be nothing that you can hide from your clients.”
Or from your employees.
Naked, effective leaders have no proverbial towel to throw into the ring, shed their personal baggage and forge new relationships, new understandings and new learnings.
Yet most of us feel guilty unclothed in public. In fact, more than 8,000 years ago the Assyrians left clay tablets that showed their shame of finding themselves naked in public. About 500 years ago, the Pope ordered the nudes in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement painting to be clothed with loincloths and veils.
It’s harder to Bare Ourselves Psychologically
But the kind of the nakedness that is even more challenging for leaders has nothing to do with or without clothes as Rollo May notes in his book The Courage to Create. “It is easier in our society to be naked physically than psychologically or spiritually, writes May, “easier to share our bodies than to share our fantasies, hopes, fears and aspiration, which are felt to be more personal.”
Maybe that’s why I have always admired leaders who muster the courage to get psychologically or spiritually naked. To bare all. To get real.
But getting real is particularly challenging as Margery Williams writes in The Velveteen Rabbit. It is a process that must consistently be worked like leadership. “Getting real… doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept.” Or completely clothed.
As Jack Welch, then chief executive officer at General Electric, noted: “Leaders in highly layered organization are like people who wear several sweaters outside on a freezing day. They remain warm and comfortable but they are blissfully ignorant of the realities of their environment.”
My take on that: The most effective leaders take it off. And then –get it on!
Bare it all (spiritually) to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Attitude:
Interruptions Are the Spice of Life
Fatherhood: Jack Nicklaus Tees Up a Winner
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