It is an old adage and hope you heard of that tale; “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. It is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It is about two weavers who promised an emperor a new suit that they said was invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they made no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them.
When the emperor paraded before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dared to say that they did not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they would be seen as stupid. Finally, a child cried out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” and so others followed suit and cried too.
Yikes! This is exactly the kind of thing you want to avoid in business. Do you want to be the naked emperor who thinks he’s wearing a magnificent suit and all the people around you keep quiet? No. So don’t be the entrepreneur whose dumb ideas are applauded even when they are dumb to the dumbest of all. Be the entrepreneur whose employees and partners have the courage to say no and expose the nakedness of the emperor’s suit, your ideas can be crap and the weavers around you can be corny and tricky but the best employees and partners can say; “Hey Emperor, you are naked”
This applies to normal life as well. You don’t want to surround yourself with the weavers and fearful subjects. Such partners tell you your ideas are good but laugh behind your back. As Simon Sinek emphasizes; exponential organizations primarily focus on trust and honesty then secondary to performance, so with the novice entrepreneur. It’s total crap to have partners and employees who perform and execute your crappy ideas than having honest and trustworthy ones who will say “Hey emperor, this idea makes us naked in long term”. In business, honesty to the emperor’s nakedness is better than empathy.
You’re an entrepreneur and sometimes you fly by the seat of your pants and stray in thinking and behavior. Entrepreneurs need people who are positively skeptical and engaging. So when you are hiring, you need to look past the yes-clan and find someone who will always refuse to kiss your dirty foot until they are cleaned.
The honest employee will challenge you, build on good ideas to make them better, and get you thinking about the flip side of things. Such people are not the wisest or most skilled and they don’t have all the answers, but by looking at things from a different light, with honest and skeptical eyes, they can point out things you might have missed, they are people worth keeping around.
Year 2012, there was no way I could have gotten to the heights I reached without my girlfriend then. Not only were her ideas brilliant but also was she very honest with me and that included saying no to some of my ideas and plans. Even when I would defy, she had to be honest with me and believe me. This made me avoid many mistakes in life and work that would have consumed me.
Honesty (openness) is critical for any human relationship to succeed and it is so more critical in business too. And when I say honesty, I don’t mean being faithful only but I also mean constructive realism and skepticism. You need people who are upfront with you. Not those who tell you one thing then go off and whisper something different in the corridor.
When you have employees agreeing with everything you say, your ego might start to get pretty big and fattened unknowingly and this is bad for business. And you shouldn’t allow your ego to get in the way of business
You need to opt for hiring people who keep you humble by pointing out the things you haven’t seen in a positive way and people you are able to freely associate with. They teach you new things and also remind you of the importance of staying grounded for the sake of building the business. I watched one video online when Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon was telling his employees that one day Amazon is liable to fall but their work was to delay its fall. That’s a great concept that can be understood by honest and open employees and partners who can look at you and say; “Hey Emperor, you are naked”, let’s dress up.
Caution of Importance
All said and heard, as a caution of importance, you have to know that just because you hire people who are willing to give you other ideas doesn’t mean you always have to listen to them as well all the time. Sometimes, you need to listen to yourself. If you think you have a winning idea worth pursuing even after your employees give you blank stares and counter ideas, you don’t have to take their advice or all of it.
But also don’t make their effort feel less important, communicate to them and appreciate their efforts regardless of your decisions. You are the leader and sometimes non-conformist employees can choose to drive you nuts. So, stay grounded on the realities with respect always. The goal is not whose idea wins but what idea builds the enterprise from ground up.
You may be thinking that you need to look for honesty in acts, truthfulness, trustworthiness, virtue, decency, etc. Not that much. In reality integrity is the state of being whole and undivided in whatever one is set to do let it be thoughts or actions. People with this kind of integrity have a sharp alignment of their thoughts and deeds. They are people who never have confusion of thoughts, they are true to the situations at present and themselves. These are the people you need because they will look at you and say; “Hey Emperor, you are naked, please have this and dress up”
Are they people driven by a mission beyond their survival? Or, are they simply driven by short term ideas for short term gains? Are they people who can sell tomorrow’s silver for today’s bread? We are here on this thing for long-term contribution, so that we gain by offering a service or product. People looking for a quick buck to survive on with no mission attached have always been disappointing to work with. It’s only when we have people looking beyond lunch that we can have exponential companies we can pride in.
Fun & Expression
Scientists say that the average formal worker spends over 100,000 hours at work in a lifetime. This is the biggest part of every life. We must choose to work with people whose company we enjoy. If you can’t have fun and free expression during work then that is absolutely a soul sacking partnership one must not be involved in.
Brilliance and Dreams
I love being around intelligent people with propelling dreams for bettering themselves and humanity. Everybody does, I guess. You have to make it a point to know what your partners and employees are up to and how they can keep pressing for bigger things. Such people make you push more when the terrains get steep.
This is an extract from a book dubbed GET SHAP.