Can you bull***t your way to authentic leadership?
That's the question. Or that's my question at least. And it's an important one. Before I try and provide an answer, let me start with a story...
When we left our semi-successful careers to revolutionise the world of nanny agencies, we did pretty much everything wrong. We spent an age agreeing the company values - integrity, respect, professionalism - which we proudly framed around our new offices. We built up a team of 10 consultants who we submersed in our newly drafted values.
We then proceeded to micromanage and undermine them as they continually refused to make any money for us.
It ended up badly. It took about 10 years for me to realise that trust makes everyone's lives a whole lot easier. Trust isn't something that can be faked very easily. Or so I thought...
Solving the leadership conundrum
Everyone's banging on about authentic leadership currently. If you really want to create a diverse, inclusive workforce where the talented women excel at the expense of the not-so-talented men then the big cheese needs to be a believer.
That's the central finding of the 30% Club's 'Cracking the Code' research.
More recently we've had business legend Lord Browne - of BP fame - making the same point. Actually, his 'Glass Closet' is a brilliant, heartfelt and compelling piece of work. Sad, too.
Gay people who feel included will be happier, will work harder, and the employer will make more money. And if you want an inclusive culture, then the Chief Exec and plenty of straight people also need to be on message and involved. Anyway, I digress.
How can companies be on message?
Can you be on message without really believing in all this diversity nonsense? Hmmm. You don't get to lead some of these huge, successful businesses without knowing how to play the game.
There are plenty of well-known leaders who are on message these days who 10 years ago thought LBGT was a tube line. Maybe the better question is: Does it matter? And the answer is of course, it does.
Equality and diversity are big, important issues. Some men get it and some don't. And the ones who don't?
Well, a bit like the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas, I'm absolutely convinced they'll get found out eventually. And when they do, there'll be tears all round.