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The Organizational fool: balancing a leader's hubris

Author: Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. INSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourIn: Human Relations, vol. 43, no. 8, 1990 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 751-770.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: This paper explores the role of the sage-fool as a means of creating a countervailing power against the regressive forces inherent in leadership, in other words, to reinforce the leader's capacity for reality testing. After a brief review of leadership theories, some of the salient characteristics of the role of the sage-fool are reviewed, taking a historical perspective. It is subsequently demonstrated how the fool, in playing the role of mediator between leader and followers, brings to the surface certain conflictual themes and thereby allows both parties to deal with the issues at hand. In this context, the role of humour' and joking relationships are examined. Finally, two cases of examples of the fool in an organizational setting are presented
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This paper explores the role of the sage-fool as a means of creating a countervailing power against the regressive forces inherent in leadership, in other words, to reinforce the leader's capacity for reality testing. After a brief review of leadership theories, some of the salient characteristics of the role of the sage-fool are reviewed, taking a historical perspective. It is subsequently demonstrated how the fool, in playing the role of mediator between leader and followers, brings to the surface certain conflictual themes and thereby allows both parties to deal with the issues at hand. In this context, the role of humour' and joking relationships are examined. Finally, two cases of examples of the fool in an organizational setting are presented

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