We’re constantly amazed – and sometimes appalled – at the lack of candour around the executive table. We’ve discussed “eye-flicking”, a dead give-away that the leaders around the table aren’t having the real conversation. Then there’s the “I agree with the boss” people – regardless of the absurdity of the boss’s opinion.
The eyes are flicking, the elephants are dancing around the room (or there’s a moose under the table if you happen to be in Canada), yet approval seeking, avoidant and dependent behaviours continue to play out in the boardroom.
“Yes Minister”. I may have a better idea or I may violently disagree, but I will be submissive because that will ensure my continued presence at the executive table.
Or will it?
In fact, when we talk to CEOs, we’re often told that one of the biggest risks their team faces is a complete lack of willingness to have an opinion or challenge the boss (or each other).
They got their seat at the table because of their judgement, insight and ability to challenge, but all the CEO has ended up with is a bunch of nodders and eye flickers. What’s the point of having them there?
It’s not fair to solely blame the leader or the followers. They all have some degree of responsibility for this kind of passive culture. So does the organisation in many cases, but that’s another story. What we do know however is that Professional Intimacy (PI) within the team is going to be low.
Low PI means the team isn’t investing enough time in each other to build the kind of mutual respect that lets real conversations happen without anyone taking offence. When you build PI, sh*t starts getting done.
How do you tell your CEO they’re naked?
The leader has to ask themselves, what am I doing to shape this passive mini culture? The followers have to ask themselves, what can I do to influence my boss and to get my peers to call it as it is?
The emperor and the court are naked and they need to be aware of their nakedness. Who will be the one to highlight that this is not a nature camp and we have some serious work to do?
Invest in Professional Intimacy and you will see the difference. And it will also put a halt to some disturbing imagery of a nude senior team!
If your team looks like they are getting ready for naked volley ball, call us and do it with a sense of urgency.