Effective Leaders Hate Honesty and Love Truth

I’m continuing my break from blogging and social media, so I thought I’d share some excellent content from…

Tom Harper pic for blog

I’m continuing my break from blogging and social media, so I thought I’d share some excellent content from my friend, Tom Harper each day this week. Hasn’t this week been a blessing of wisdom from a man of God? Today’s blog post is so insightful and helpful to me personally, that it will now change the way I interact with my staff – both me to them and them to me.

Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog www.ChurchCentral.com). He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).

Last week I was honored to speak at the TurnAround20/20 Conference in Nashville, TN, where I got to meet Tom in person. He graciously offered to provide blog posts for me so I could finish my rest from technology. So enjoy! Here’s Tom’s last blog post for this week:


Let me be honest with you.

Honestly, here’s why it won’t work.

Enough with the honesty thing! When someone tells me they’re being honest, I have my cue to dig deeper for real truth.

Sometimes the word is synonymous with really, or simply an emphatic yet meaningless adjective, like saying Look, here’s what I’m saying. Some would call it a waste word.

However, if the context is a difficult conversation with a colleague, it’s a flag.

Honesty and truth don’t always go hand in hand.

The flag raises when the meaning of honestly changes to please believe me. It becomes a plea to shift your bias in their favor.

The problem is truth often flees when the h word enters the picture.

It’s not so much that they lie. It’s that they leave out significant details, either because they’re afraid to deliver unpleasant news or because the truth might make them look bad. Persuasion is their goal.

If you want to know the rest of the story, look for subtle clues to what the person is really thinking, like:

  • body language
  • facial expressions
  • phrases they don’t normally use

Once you have the truth….

Now shift the focus to the future.

A good question to conclude with is:  What would you like me to do? This cuts through any remaining fog and extracts progress from the drama.

A leader’s action steps for truth gathering:

  1. Walk through employee and customer areas several times a day, especially at the beginning of the day.
  2. Regularly experience your operation from the customers’ and employees’ points of view.
  3. Make yourself accessible by giving out your cell number and by getting out and about.
  4. Dig deeper, and deeper still, until you learn the whole truth.