This article highlights a few of the topics from episode 12 of our Lead the Future podcast. You can watch or listen to the full episode here.
THE BIG IDEA:
Leaders need help with honesty, truth-telling and justice.
As a co-founder and managing partner at Navalent, a leading organizational and leadership development consulting firm, Ron Carucci has built a remarkable, 30-year career working with CEOs and other C-Suite executives in 25 countries on four continents. He is also the author of eight books.
In a recent episode of our Lead the Future podcast, Carucci discussed his most recent book – To be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice and Purpose – and the deep-dive research he is doing on why many of today’s leaders are having such a difficult time with something as elemental as honesty.
WHY IT MATTERS:
Leadership is not possible without accountability, honesty and trust.
I have spent a good deal of my career studying and writing about accountability, which I believe is a defining trait of the best leaders. In many ways, my research into leadership accountability dovetailed perfectly with Carucci’s deep-dive into honesty and trust. It really resonated with me when he told me during the podcast that “we’re in a trust recession right now” where leaders were falling prey to deceit largely because they were not practicing honesty enough.
“I don’t find most of the deceit out there to be in the service of self-interest. There are certainly those psychopaths out there and they get our headlines every day…. But the vast majority of deceit and deception is in service of self-protection. Some image we want to concoct of ourselves, some response we want to engineer, some reaction we want to avoid, some pain we’re trying to engage. You know, I asked leaders to do this work all the time. If you want to become more honest, you have to become more honest about your dishonesty.”
Dishonesty and a lack of accountability will erode your credibility.
Carucci was quite adamant that, with people looking to their leaders and even emulating their behaviours, it was critical to acknowledge the injustices around you and then “right those wrongs.” Are one group of employees being given an unfair advantage over another? Are you witness to rampant acts of microaggression? Are you really giving everyone you lead the same opportunities?
“And when you … see somebody treated unfairly, for goodness’ sake, when you do it, if you’re not taking responsibility for that and advocating for justice for people, your silence is consent, you’re then condoning the injustice. And until people see you righting that wrong, using your power for the greater good, your credibility will be short-lived.”
When the alternative is so risky, why not just try honesty first.
It seems almost too obvious to point out: how can people follow someone they don’t trust? From the individual leader’s point of view, however, the questions we must ask ourselves are quite different.
What did I do to lose the trust of the people I lead? And then, what can I do to get it back?
Many people in business love to talk about how “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” Although I’m not sure that’s always true, I do think that leaders that make a bad impression through dishonesty or a lack of accountability have a very steep hill to climb to re-establish their credibility.
I’m not saying it can’t be done. But when you think about how much work it takes to rebuild relationships that have been destroyed by dishonesty and distrust, maybe building up your “honesty muscle,” as Carucci puts it, is a better use of your time.
A Gut Check for Leaders: In order to earn the trust of the people you lead, do you practice honesty every day?
WATCH OR LISTEN TO EPISODE 12 OF LEAD THE FUTURE:
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