Leaders need to tell their people the truth. That goes for governments, businesses, civic organizations, churches and any other group. When there is no longer the solid belief that you are being told the truth by someone in a position of authority, then there is no longer the basis for trust that must be there in order to continue that relationship.
These thoughts come to mind because of a situation I am aware of in an organization I belong to outside of work. I won’t be too specific here because this isn’t the proper place or the time to divulge details, but I can at least draw from it a daily lesson learned.
Participation is this group is voluntary, but long-term relationships run deep. The thought of turmoil, conflict, angst, distrust and hurt feelings in this group sickens me. The thought of leaders lying to their people sickens me more.
There are some hard, private, one-on-one conversations that need to happen soon to avoid things unfolding in a terrible way that damages more people and the organization. Leadership needs to stop trying to save face, and stop hoping that the matter and certain individuals go away. Instead, they need to be honest with their people, own up to their actions and the reasons for them, and trust that the situation is one we can get through if they tell their people the truth. In the absence of that, they forfeit their right to lead and I can freely exercise my right not to follow.
I know this all sounds vague to a reader not involved with my situation, but the point of the lesson is what is important, not the details of it. That lesson is that we can never afford to get to a place where leaders lying to their people is acceptable. We may cynically accept it in politics (although we shouldn’t). In government and other organizations we belong to, we must challenge and hold accountable leaders to tell us the truth, or it is time for that leadership to change.
Effective leadership requires trust. Trust involves integrity. Integrity demands honesty.
Leap year lesson #272 is Leaders can’t lie and still lead.