Adrian Trenholm retells this story at 173drurylane.
The Sainsbury’s CEO employs an executive coach. The coach tells the CEO that his every move is closely watched by colleagues and that they take their lead from CEO whether the CEO realises it or not.
To prove it the coach proposes an experiment. He hands a copy of The Grocer to the CEO. The rules of the experiment are that the CEO is simply to keep the magazine visible whenever he is in the company of a Sainsbury’s employee, but he is not to talk about it and he is to deflect questions if anyone asks him about it.
For two weeks, the CEO carries round a copy of The Grocer magazine.
At the next meeting, the coach asks the CEO how the experiment has gone. The CEO says: No-one commented on it, no-one questioned it, no-one even appeared to notice it. They listen to what I say, but you are wrong: they don’t watch my every move.
The coach then drops a bombshell: Sainsbury’s employees had taken out 400 new subscriptions to the Grocer during the previous two weeks.