7 Lies We Tell (In Leadership)

Lying has become a common practice in the corporate world.

But what are the reasons behind our workplace lies?

We know that dishonesty breaks trust and makes it harder to get the job done. And as silly as it may sound, some of the biggest breakthroughs in team dynamics occur when two leaders grab a drink a finally hash out their differences.

The root of our lying is a desire to self-protect.

We have needs, wants, dreams and desires.

We place those wants and needs before the needs of our organization. We may even be afraid of retaliation if we do speak the truth. Unwilling to jeopardize our safety, we lie.

As we move up the corporate ladder, we continue the strategy. But something strange simultaneously occurs. We are now responsible for the business as a whole.

A tug-of-war begins between what is good for me as an individual and what is good for us as a business.

Part of leadership is increasingly taking responsibility for the good-of-the-whole. To take care of the entity that takes care of the people.

So, the lies we tell ourselves and tell each other start to corrode and break down good business practices (and ultimately cost the company money!).

And in our experience consulting companies, this corporate doublespeak is the most demoralizing part of working in a large company.

Employees are adults and they want to hear the truth. Saying one thing and doing another breaks trust and it signals that each person is on their own. They can do whatever they want, just don’t get caught.

Let’s hit the reset button.

To have a great business (and make money) is to DO what is good for business.

Let us embark on an experiment and see how honesty and selflessness might affect business-as-usual. The results may be quite remarkable.

Based on our consulting experience, we have aggregated 7 profiles of leaders who choose to place their personal desires first, and ultimately, cost their business money and stability.

Somewhere, in all of us, these profiles exist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be living in the world we have all created (and continue to create). Let us see where and when we employ these strategies so that we can then decide how we can try something different.

If we do what we’ve done, we’ll get what we got.

Here’s to giving honesty a chance!

#1 The Cost Of Achievement

Health & wellness is in crisis mode in the workplace. Yet investing in employee wellness is often treated like a “nice to have”. An expensive side project.

We know that a healthy population decreases attrition and increases financial performance. And we know that these programs pay for themselves.

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Healthy People, Healthy Business

Or let’s at least be honest, achievement at the cost of our health is more important than creating a great business.

#2 Hooked On Work

We know that working more than 50 hours a week creates more burn-out. And that sleeping 4-5 hours a night is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.10%!

Proper rest, recovery and sleep are good business practice. Personal boundaries help employees flourish and achieve more.

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Happy People, Thriving Business

Or let’s at least be honest, personal addiction to work is more important to us than making sound business decisions.

#3 Driven By Emotion

We see bosses unleash anger, punishment, and abuse upon their employees. We also see the boss that wants to be everyone’s “best friend” or “we’re family here”. For both, satiating their emotional needs (negative or positive) comes before creating a healthy culture that respects personal boundaries.

The immature leader has little awareness of their emotions, which means those emotions are transferred to the people around them.

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Regulated People, Stable Business

Or let’s at least be honest, satiating personal emotions is more important to us than creating a respectful business environment.

#4 It's All Buddy Buddy

In a global economy, diversity is a fact. Diverse teams consistently outcompete homogeneous teams and make more money for shareholders.

Yet some leaders would rather hang onto to their bias, which leads to discrimination. They hire friends, university buddies… defaulting to what is easy over what is right.

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Inclusive People, Resilient Business

Or let’s at least be honest, the need to feel superior and create the world in our image is more important than getting the most from people.

#5 Modern Day Moses

For some leaders it is easier to paint a grand vision and string employees along with hopes and dreams. Yet when push comes to shove, these leaders fall back on excuses.

Like a modern Moses, they want to shepherd people to the promised land. Performative actions are half-measures and they ring out as hollow. Over time, they erode trust.

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Real Goals, Real Business

Or let’s at least be honest, personal fear to disappoint people, to live in a fantasy state, is more important than taking real action.

#6 Time To Consume

Many businesses exploit our natural resources. Focused on short-term personal gain, they do not think ahead.

Yet they intentionally create more chaotic, volatile and unstable business conditions. When natural resources like water, forests, crude oil run out, how will their business model hold up then?

If we want a great business, the case is clear:

Sustainable Planet, Sustainable Business

Or let’s at least be honest, personal short-term greed is more important to us than business continuity.

#7 Built To Collapse

Almost all executives talk about leaving a legacy.

Real legacy means leaving something behind that is healthy and thriving. This requires obeying natural laws. This requires making decisions for the good-of-all.

If we build something that is inherently built to collapse, then maybe it does not deserve to exist in the first place.

Stealing from future generations to satiate personal desires is not good leadership. And it’s not good business.

But if that is the case, then let’s at least be honest.

Although, ironically, being honest is also good for business.