Filling Up Your Fool Tank

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to clarify your decision-making skill. Reading time: 2:58.

           The chief executive officer (CEO) nodded approvingly as her strategic policy team reviewed the highlights of their careful research.

        a indecision  a diceTheir decision-making process —— imbued in detailed documentation and sprinkled with broad expertise and experience —- was right on target, especially after six months of very detailed review  and a meaningful consensus on the situation that seemed to counter  all objections. All agreed including the CEO: this was the direction to go.

        But then the CEO surprised everyone. She abruptly adjourned the meeting “to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain even more understanding of what this decision is all about.”

        Indeed, the CEO reaffirmed that the most effective leaders regularly pump high performance “fool” into their decision-making tanks: The CEO understood her responsibility to guard against the overwhelming power of group-think, citing the notion that:

                    ” When everyone thinks alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

        And that CEO saw first hand what psychologist William James once said, “What the whole community comes to believe grasps the individual as in a vise.”

         No wonder the most effective leaders break out of that vise-like grip. They realize the significance in first filling up their Fool Tank, lest their new path of decision-making  run out of gas.

         To fill up their Fool tanks, leaders surround themselves with anything but “yes men.” They surround themselves with a Fool who would intervene in the thinking of a king to protect him from “yes men” – those who told the king  ONLY what he wanted to hear.

Slaying the Sacred Cows

         But the Fool assaulted the king’s thinking and forced him to examine his assumptions. The Fool challenged, questioned and slayed the sacred cows the King guarded so fervently, so assiduously, so completely. In fact, the Fool would protect the king from looking foolish no matter how high he sat on his throne, no matter how exalted his reign, no matter how devoted his subjects.

        The Fool guards against group think. The Fool recalls only too vividly that famous group-think scene from Candid Camera television program: a man gets on an elevator; all people in the elevator are facing the rear. So the man caves into group-think, conforms and faces the rear.

        Ah, the “ tyranny of the majority” as author Alexis de Tocqueville called it. After all: majority rule crucified Jesus Christ; majority rule burned the Christians at the stake; majority rule established slavery and the majority rule scoffed when Columbus said the world was round.

       Indeed decisions are consistently stirred in the pot of personal responsibility. Every person is personally responsible for the decision and its consequences. No one can hide behind the other. No one can hide under the cloak of “mob rule.” No one can blame someone or some THING else. As author S.I. Hayakawa said: “If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.”

       Don’t become a victim of your own limitations. Be a leader. Hire a Fool. Fill up your Fool tank early and often and you won’t run out of gas on the road to success.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Guard against group think  to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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