Sunday, 2 December 2012

How do we tell our Emperors and Empresses that we know they are naked?

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The fable about the Emperor who had no clothes is well known. He believed he was wearing sumptuous velvet adorned with jewels, but in truth he was naked. His minions played along with him, "dressing" him every day and complimenting him on his attire.  Then one day, someone decided to tell the truth...      

How to diagnose whether you are an emperor or empress

  1. Do you have strong beliefs about something?  What people or processes do you have in place to ensure you are not believing your own beliefs? For example, a mentor or critical friend who has the strength to point out when you are dashing about naked.
  2. Do you have "minions" around you who are constantly agreeing with you, forwarding your tweets, nodding their heads in meetings and running about in the shadow behind you.  Can you remember the last time someone really disagreed with your point of view? Does it happen often? Do you ever disagree and have a constructive debate with someone?
  3. Do you talk about your "clothes", are you constantly changing them, adding jewels etc.  The endless focus on the clothes, and the changing thereof, can make it difficult for "minions" to comment.
  4. Do you marginalise the person who disagrees with you. This may happen without any conscious thought. You could be picking up a signal and then ignoring them out of fear they may point out what you already know.
A number of CEO's have mentioned to me that one of their greatest fears on appointment to their role, is that staff no longer tell them the truth about what it happening and instead tell them what they think they want to know. They then set up ways to counter this problem.

If you are an improvement leader in healthcare  do you have a way to check the extent to which your clothes belong to an emperor or empress?


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