Honesty is the single most important “building block” in the leader-follower relationship. To many people, honesty is the same as sincerity, truthfulness, integrity, frankness, candor, and openness.
Though some leaders don’t consciously realize it, honesty includes not only telling the truth, but also leaving the right impression.
Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
It’s clear that if people are willingly to follow you—whether into battle or into the boardroom, the front office or the front lines—they first want to assure themselves that you are worthy of their trust.
They want to know that you are truthful, ethical, and principled. No matter what the setting, everyone wants to be fully confident in their leaders, and to be fully confident they must believe that their leaders are people of strong character and solid integrity.
We—all of us—don’t want to be lied to. We don’t want to be deceived. We do want to be told the truth. We do want a leader who knows, right from wrong.
Yes, we want our team to win, but we don’t want to be led—or misled—by someone who cheats in the process of attaining victory. We want our leaders to be honest, because their honesty is a reflection upon our own honesty.
Be Honest. Tell the Truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people on social media?
Don’t distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions. Bottom Line: Tell the Truth, Leave the Right Impression, And Be Honest!
Listen to the words of Proverbs 12:17 (ESV): “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.” Normalizing atrocious attitudes and behavior as just one other kind of a leader is highly dangerous.
The author is founder and former managing editor of The Independent, the Gambia’s only private newspaper before it was banned by the government in 2005. He was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a 2007 Nieman fellow and is the author of Delayed Democracy: How Press Freedom Collapsed in Gambia published in 2013.
This article was first published on June 12, 2017