Crossed fingers

Managing Honesty

In a post several months ago, Seth Godin asks organizations that speak untruths to customers “what else will you lie about?

The question of organizational integrity is one that I wrestle with frequently. I’ve written about it directly or indirectly several times already, and I’m sure I’ll write about it considerably more.

In the same way that Seth describes the slippery slope of institutional lying to its customers and to the public, managers must be wary of choosing to start glibly lying to his or her charges.

And it’s terribly easy to start lying.

Sometimes being honest as a manager means conveying extremely unwelcome news honestly and with candor, and that is profoundly challenging. It is always infinitely more rewarding than the alternative, though. Recently for me it meant stepping down from a managerial role because maintaining the role would have meant forgoing integrity to a degree that I simply couldn’t live with. Even in the messy aftermath of that decision, I’ve never felt that I made the wrong call.

Give some thought to what things might be like if you made being honest with your team your highest priority—somewhere above maintaining your role, somewhere above looking good to your boss. I suspect you’ll find your approach to management to be profoundly more satisfying, and I know that your team will find it refreshingly so.