Read the news and you’ll discover that a whole lot of politicians simply make stuff up. A polite way of saying they lie. A lot. After you get past the deception, anger and frustration of the lies, people will simply ignore the lying politician. The politician becomes a non-factor in negotiations, building policy or having a voice.
Unless, of course, the lot of them lie to each other. In that case, not only does the politician get written off, but the entire institution the politicians represent get written off as well. There is a reason “I’m from the government and I want to help you” carries such unfortunate, negative connotations.
People who work in companies, of course, are not the same as politicians. Or are they?
How many times have you or your teammates fudged the numbers because you weren’t done with the work? Or the numbers didn’t match the view you wanted to have?
How many times have you or your teammates increased the importance of one number while discounting another that doesn’t fit your view of a situation?
How many times has your management team chosen to ignore facts in the market because they didn’t want to hear the bad news? Like banks ignoring the housing bubble because there was too much profit to be had risking the company (and, like Washington Mutual, failing)?
How many times has your management team tried to hide the facts of what was really happening in the department to higher levels of management?
In the end, none of this can be hidden. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you really can’t fool most of the people most of the time.
And as soon as you are found out, you lose all credibility and trust with your team and your management. If both management and employees are all lying to each other, sooner or later the company falls apart as well.
Stating “truth to power” is tough. The truth needs good research, a good defense, and a person willing to state unpleasant news to a person in their own group or their own manager.
But truth and integrity build a career. Either you will become a trusted advisor to others through your commitment to honesty or you will quickly find out that truth and integrity are not valued in the company you keep which tells you it is time to leave.
Business and careers are tough right now and good management teams need honest judgment from the people working for the management teams. Just as employees need honest judgment from the management teams so they know how to help. This is precisely why truth and integrity matter now more than ever in a career.
How much “truthiness” are you seeing in your company?