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Courageous leadership calls out magical thinking while creating innovative ideas

“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”.

Playing games is more often the rule in company strategy sessions. Egos, rivalries, biases and fear are apart of all strategy meetings. Many do not want to disagree with the CEO and are reluctant to propose new ideas that may get shot down.

This leads to safe and risk averse sales and marketing. And a lack of big and bold ideas that are needed to propel a company a head of its competitors. As Peter Drucker wrote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Social strategy rooms often morph into beauty pageants.

McKinsey research reveals 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. The end result is that no one wants to take the chance and present a more realistic plan that might actually work.

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, CEOs and CMOs tell us they benefit greatly 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, without any concern for your feelings, 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 are the people who challenge the status quo and push the organization to make painful but necessary changes. They’re invaluable,” Grant says.

We believe courage is the greatest virtue leaders need.

Courageous leaders tell the truth and say out loud that a bad idea is a bad idea no matter whose idea it is—even if it’s the CEO’s. And if you don’t have people who give their honest feedback that stifles innovation and limits 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.  Contact Tim Finley at