Court jester

Every organisation deserves a court jester

It is important that managers dare to act with a freedom of spirit. How else can they carry the responsibility for (a part of) their company? But how do you guarantee this without losing the human factor? Let us explain why a court jester is exactly what every company needs!

Job Opening: Court Jester

The English courts for centuries employed a so-called ‘professional fool’ or a ‘fool with a license’. The court jester had a solid influence at court and with riddles could address current topics. Shakespeare described it quite well: the court jester was wise enough to play the fool. It helps an organisation in forming ideas and implementing them if people can – respectfully of course – give each other open feedback, also between hierarchical layers. If this is done with a healthy dose of humor, it can take away the tension.
A mistake often made while hiring new people in an organisation is the copy-effect. Many directors search for candidates that offer a literal mirror instead of a resonating sounding board. Many directors say they search for managers who can challenge them, until someone actually does. All of a sudden it then seems less wishful behaviour. Is this out of convenience? Or is it uncertainty?


The culture of a country, region or organisation is of great influence on the ‘court jester-ship’. We can all name examples of areas where direct questions and remarks are not accepted. Also, not every personal profile is suitable for the position of court jester. Still it is good to have someone on the team who does not think too hierarchically and with a wink can address matters. This opens participation in the discussion.

Authentic declaration of independence

To lead a (part of an) organisation, it is essential to build this on solid plans. These plans cannot change like flags in the wind, because then nobody will keep a long-term vision or take on a long-term project. It will probably all be different again tomorrow…. This results without a doubt in a posture of ‘daily lunacy’ that so many of us are guilty of.

Directors and managers should stand up more and maintain their own authenticity and dare to be independent. After all, they have a great responsibility towards the organisation and the people. Besides, what is the worst that can happen? Having to look for a new job? Coming to the conclusion that there was no match? Is that really such a big problem? We have known for a long time that it is good to change jobs or employers every 5 to 7 years.
An important advantage for the leaders themselves is that they don’t burn their energy on suppressing the resistance they have to matters they do not really support.

Long live the court jester!

Written by Margot Nijkamp

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