The Jester

The Jester Elite Accounting Team Blog

The Jester

Historically, kings employed jesters or fools to amuse and entertain their guests at table and at court. They could sing, play instruments, tell jokes, and make fun of the high and mighty. The tradition was that jesters had license to say things about the king and others that would go unpunished, where trouble could easily befall an unfortunate courtier who voiced the same opinion. Wise kings looked to their jesters for more than entertainment, as the fool possessed a perspective on royal action unfettered by fear of reprisal. A ruler who saw the value in hearing dissent instead of constant agreement employed a valuable tool in guiding the course of his rule.

This applies in business, too. Any owner, CEO, or Chair of the Board who purges their inner circle of dissenters can leave themselves open to actions of folly. An employee with a different view, respectfully delivered, is a valuable asset. Whether they offer an alternative perspective, a different plan of action, or even outright opposition, their viewpoints may hold worthwhile insight that needs to be heard.

Studies bear this out. When there’s room for safe expression of a diversity of opinion, groups tasked with projects are demonstrably more innovative. New ideas can create more products, more services, and more profits. While that doesn’t mean giving the nod to every suggestion, it does mean hearing them out, even if sometimes it’s uncomfortable. There is also great value in lightening a discussion once in a while; taking one’s work seriously is good. Taking one’s self too seriously, however, can lead to choices motivated by ego. One need only remember that the Titanic was billed as ‘unsinkable’ to be reminded of the consequences of human hubris.

A jester on the staff can be an invaluable member of your inner circle, for they will offer perspective others may not, and the sage business owner will hold them close, giving them a safe space to express their views. As Shakespeare said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool…”

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