Leadership is: Honesty

“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” – Marcus Aurelius

Honesty in leadership is tight rope that must be walked.

Unfortunately honesty isn’t as straight forward as it sounds, here are my observations on some methods of honesty:

For some, honesty is the best only policy — If they have the information they feel it must be shared regardless of  method, timing, or even outcome. I have a student that believes in this policy. They tend to speak their mind in the moment. Usually this honesty (which is supposed to be helping people) isn’t well received, however true it may be! The problem with this policy is that it violates the healthy habits of communication (I talk about the healthy habits of communication here), as well as John Maxwell’s law of timing.

For others, honesty is circumstantial — If they have information but don’t know if it will be beneficial to the person or situation at the moment, or ever, then they don’t have to be honest with them. Unofficially, this seems to be the favored view of honesty. I don’t have to tell my wife she looks “big” in those jeans, because that’s going to ruin my night and her night. The problem with this view is that it makes us the sole decider of what is beneficial and what isn’t. Usually when dealing with honesty it is for the benefit of another person. When we decide what is and isn’t beneficial for them we rob them of a chance to grow.

For leaders, honesty is all about other people — If you’re goal is other people, your honesty will include the healthy habits of communication, the law of timing and a desire to see them grow. Honesty must be used to build people up, give them hope, and cast a vision for the future. A leader won’t be honest because it makes them feel better, they will give it in a way that connects with the person, and they will said what needs to be said, no more no less.

What are your observations of honesty?

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