Leading and Lying

This is a repost from the Big4.com blog by Eleni Pallas

Academic researchers claim that lying is part of our daily experience, necessary to grease the social wheels appropriately.

But, how does that affect us as leaders?

If leading is about inspiring people to take action around a collective vision and goal, how does lying fit in?


We lie to:

  • avoid feeling something unpleasant
  • prevent from hurting someone’s feelings
  • hide a mistake
  • avoid someone’s negative reaction
  • try to control a situation or environment (and how others see us)
  • avoid undesired consequences

The above list shows that there are lots of reasons for lying, but they all undermine our leadership effectiveness and that’s the problem. Lying creates the fastest way to:

  • erode our self-confidence
  • abate our credibility
  • reduce our influence over others
  • strengthen adversaries by giving them darts to throw
  • weaken our relationships
  • give us more work to do (remembering & covering up lies is a full-time job)

With all that baggage, how can we initiate great things and create great outcomes as leaders? And if we are already creating great results, what could we do if we had the courage to tell the truth?

Imagine yourself as a leader who could always tell the truth. What would you have to think, feel and do to make that happen?

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