Following yesterday’s post I’ve been doing a little more reading about honesty and leadership.
However, the recurring definition of honesty in most texts relates to trustworthiness of the leader.
I’m convinced that trustworthiness is a key factor in effective leadership but “truth” is a little bit more difficult to handle.
For truth – the whole truth – and nothing but the truth – can be exceptionally hurtful for those of us used to”white lies” – definition:
white lie n. A diplomatic or well-intentioned untruth.
I think we have become conditioned to telling “white lies” when dealing with personnel issues. We find ways to talk round an issue so that when we leave the room people are left wondering “Was I being told off – or complimented?”
Perhaps this is one of the key factors in effective leadership – the ability to tell the truth in such a way that people can still trust your judgement – even when the “truth” might be about you!
The danger here is that leaders might see this as a licence to criticise others under the cover of – “I must tell the truth”. What a leader such as Tim Brighouse has is the wisdom to judge when tell the truth and when to say nothing- the underlying purpose must always be driven by the interests of children.