The tasks of evaluation, decision-making, and determining action are constant for leaders and managers. We must, from start of day to its close, gather information, qualify that information, and prescribe appropriate responses.
This requires intelligence and I mean that in the broader sense of information and intelligence gathering not just in the “smart” sense. Leaders and managers need information and should demand it, should settle for nothing less.
This is where trait #11 comes in. The people we assemble into work teams and staffs must be truthful with us and with themselves.
A truthful person is:
Honest about what they do, have done and consequently will do. They build a track record of reliability in the capacity to accurately report what they have done thus we can trust what they tell us about what they can do and consequently what they will do.
Honest about what has happened. When giving account (trait #2), their account is accurate in three dimensions:
They have told us what happened (the truth),
They have included everything in their report (the whole truth),
They have neither embellished nor interpreted the facts (nothing but the truth.)
In so doing they have become reliable witness upon whose testimony we can rely and from which we can make the best decisions and take the most appropriate actions.
Honest about how things are because you need information based on facts not fabrication. You need to make decisions and take action based on facts not speculation. Peril awaits on either side – exaggeration or it’s opposite, minimizing.
We need to fight and defeat immaculate perception. There exists within just about everyone an inclination to magnify the importance and validity of our own ideas. I call it immaculate perception, the tendency to ascribe to one’s opinions the attributes of omniscience and consequently the belief in one’s omnipotence. In short, we think too highly of our own ideas and truthful people are a balance to that.
We need truthful people because we cannot be everywhere all the time and we cannot know everything. Corporate structures are guilty of insulating decision-makers from reality because they are often physically removed from the places where decisions are put into practice. The TV show Undercover Boss substantiates this. In every case, bosses discover that their decisions have been both useful and harmful.
Information, accurate information, is on our side. It is not our enemy. Truthful associates make the company stronger. Truthful information does not weaken the company, it only shows us where the weakness is.
Truthfulness is sought here as a manifestation of good judgment because being truthful will imply that the person knows what to say, when to say it, to whom to say it, and how it should be said. Now, the question arises here about why people who work for you and with you do not tell you the truth. It could be because they are dishonest people. Those do exist and you know what to do about it. But it could be that they are afraid to tell you the truth because of you.
It might be that the way you react to the truth has shut down the flow of information. If that is the case, the world of fantasy will gradually displace the real world and the consequences can be dire.
Many surveys show that truthfulness is a key component of leadership because it implies reliability, trustworthiness, and credibility.
Frankly, truthfulness is not a valued trait in some workplaces. The powers that be have given themselves to delusion and want to hear only information and input that supports that delusion. Other leaders are insecure and must be continually propped up by sliver-tongued sycophants.
What do you do when someone tells you the truth? How do you react? What do you do when you discover someone has been dishonest? What can you do today to encourage truthfulness in your company or organization?
Trait #13 is stewardship. See you in a few days.