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Honesty and Leadership

Uncategorized May 30, 2019

“Honesty is a leader’s most valued and valuable leadership quality because it is the gateway for trust and inspiration.”  —Michael Bunting

I used to work for a guy who would sit in meetings and blatantly lie. My coworkers and I would look at each other, wide-eyed, at this guy’s nerve. WE knew he was lying…did HE know he was lying?

He would say he was going to do things and never do them, or that he had done things and not done them. He said he met with or was going to meet with people and never did. He would say he would follow up with people, and never did. LOTS of times.

Why was he lying? I could guess, but I will truly never know. What I do know if that there was a TON of turnover in that office.

What is the effect of leaders who are not honest?

I recently read a terrific article by Michael Bunting called Honesty: The single most important leadership value. (https://www.theceomagazine.com/business/management-leadership/honesty-the-single-most-important-leadership-value/) In this article, he quotes the Trust Barometer’s 2014 survey that found that only 20% of people trust business leaders to tell the truth.

Does YOUR team trust you? Are you sure?

Take this basic quiz to see where you stand regarding being honest:

  1. Do you always follow through when you make a commitment?
  2. Do you ‘fess up and apologize if you don’t? Then do you make it right?
  3. Do you tell people you will/have done something when you actually didn’t?
  4. Do you stretch the truth so that you don’t look bad?
  5. Do you blame other people when things go wrong?
  6. Do you steal other people’s ideas or work?

If you answer yes to any of these items, you are probably less honest than you think you are. You definitely need to clean up your act.


Well, not only will you feel better about yourself…your team will feel better about you too. Your people know if you are not consistent in telling the truth.

People are not engaged in their work when their leader sets a bad example. They lose passion for the job, and start to just check the box while they look for another job.

Studies show that there are many correlations between ‘perceived behavioral integrity’ and job performance. Mr. Bunting’s article quotes a study from the Journal of Business Ethics that found that “Leaders with high perceived behavioural integrity lead teams that are significantly more satisfied in their job, less likely to be absent, less stressed, and report greater overall health and wellbeing and life satisfaction.” It just makes sense. We don’t trust people who are not honest, and people don’t want to work with people who they don’t trust.

A basic fail of leadership is the lack of self-awareness. This is defined as a realistic understanding of yourself, and also of how others view you. The larger the gap between how you view yourself and how others view you, the harder it will be to succeed in leadership.

This is a tough topic, and one that many coaches and consultants don’t address. Because it is so important, I have developed a process that helps leaders increase their self-awareness.

Contact me if you are interested in learning more. It could be the best leadership experience of your life.


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