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What if your key leaders are afraid to tell the truth?

“Courage is the only virtue you cannot fake.”

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Black Swan


Does your leadership team need a strategy room intervention?

Quite possibly. In the book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, McKinsey & Company writes “strategy is precisely the wrong problem for human brains and the right problem for playing games, especially when the inside company view goes unchecked”.

The inside company view can go unchecked when people say the right thing but not necessarily the true thing.

If you’re not diligent, safe conversations can often rule your strategy sessions. This can lead to a reluctance to propose new ideas that may get shot down in front of the CEO.

As Peter Drucker wrote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Social strategy rooms can morph into beauty pageants.

Research reveals that when the social side of the strategy process kicks in, conversations turn into some form of a beauty pageant. Every C-Suite leader wants to look good to the CEO. Careers, bonuses and future promotions are all on the line in the strategy room. A successful meeting is deemed to be one with little friction and maximum good feelings. 

Beauty pageant leadership sessions can lead to magical thinking and delusional optimism that seldom turn into reality. McKinsey research demonstrates that unless leadership teams make big bold moves, they have little chance of moving ahead of their competitors in the marketplace.

Bringing an outside view into your strategy room can help refocus and reboot stale thinking and dead-end sales and marketing efforts. At Mars Hill Media, senior leaders tell us how they benefit from our dynamic strategy perspective that comes with a jolt of reality–what we like to call a strategy intervention. 

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

- C.S. Lewis

Many leadership teams could use the “Disagreeable Giver”

Adam Grant, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, reveals the kind of person who is the key to making teams succeed. He calls them the “disagreeable giver”. According to Grant, executive level members of your team who tell it like it is, might get on your nerves a bit–but they’re the most undervalued people in business.

“Disagreeable givers are the people who are willing to give the critical feedback you don’t want to hear–but you need to hear,” Grant says. “They’re the people who challenge the status quo and push the organization to make painful but necessary changes. They’re invaluable,” Grant says.

Courage might be the greatest virtue leaders need.

Courageous leaders tell the truth. They call out bad ideas no matter whose ideas they are. And they take bold risks in creating original ideas even if some will get shot down. CEO’s need this daring and honest feedback to propel creative innovation and business growth.

Political correctness in business is the elevation of sensitivity over truth. And you need truth spoken in your strategy room, so you can execute realistic Big Ideas in order to scale your business against your competitors. Many times, in business and in life you get in trouble for telling the truth. When you do, people tend to lose their minds, but courageous leaders do it anyway. 

If any of this resonates, we’d love to talk to see if we can help your organization.  Tim Finley, CEO of Mars Hill Media can be reached at