With lies you may get ahead in the world – but you can never go back.
~ Russian proverb
The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.
~ Tao Te Ching
The Weight of a Lie
A mindful leader sees the world as it is. They do not attempt manipulating reality to their likes or dislikes. Nor, do they attempt to gain power or influence by favoring one side over another. Dishonest or prejudicial brokers make duplicitous dealmakers.
The leader who lies or distorts facts to advance a selfish or prejudicial agenda builds a wall of mistrust. Any gains derived from their deceptions will be short-lived. Their losses, however, will be ongoing. Lies, omissions, and misstatements undermine leadership and weakens their support.
Wise leaders understand even a harsh truth is a better starting point than a comfortable lie. A truthful foundation is stable and can prosper. A relationship built on deceit is unsustainable and begins in bankruptcy.
An organization’s members who cannot trust their leaders will retreat in fear, desert in concern, or revolt in protest. In turn, outside rivals will embellish each lie, intensify their suspicions, and maintain a wary distance. The public will have their beliefs challenged or reinforced. Distrust allows nothing to remain dormant.
Trusted leaders encourage and inspire. An open and honest leader motivates the internal staff to be brave, loyal, and cooperative. Competitors will be respectful and be willing to broker ethical arrangements. And the public will listen to their message without prejudice. Virtuous leaders create a harmonious environment that allows stakeholders to believe in them.
The dishonest leader who sacrifices their credibility has difficulty regaining it. Earning a reputation as a liar restrains conversations and handcuffs negotiations. Even the title “leader” is fraudulent. They have lost their ability to construct a deal. Their behavior has ended their effectiveness. They have fired themselves.
The wise leader knows telling an ugly truth is better than spinning a beautiful lie. An unattractive truth can be a starting point for growth and change. A beautiful lie will lie fallow and spoil.