The success or failure of a leader is largely dependent upon their ability to separate fact from fiction in the information that comes to them. Sometimes a leader’s ability to see the truth is colored by their own desires or fears or ego. To really lead, a leader must be able and willing to ferret out the truth in any given situation.
Some leaders discourage truth-telling. They “shoot the messenger” when the message is not what they want to hear. I once read that Bertrand Russell said that one of the reasons Hitler lost World War II was that he had an incomplete and inaccurate view of what was going on because bearers of bad news were punished. As a result, no one dared tell him the truth. Without knowing the truth, he could not make the right decisions and take the appropriate action.
Many of us, as leaders, are guilty of this same error. We don’t like to admit our mistakes or shortcomings so we kid ourselves and punish those who try to steer us in the right direction by telling us the truth.
A successful leader not only does not cheat or lie to others, he or she also learns to be honest with himself or herself. A good leader ranks high on the self-understanding and self-honesty scales.
Look for and seek the truth in all things, whether it is good news or bad news. “It doesn’t matter who’s right, but what’s right.”