Can't Hide Your Lying Eyes: Strong Leaders Work To Tell The Truth

Deception and strong leadership do not jive. Liar, liar, career in flames. No one wants to be called a liar. No one wants to intentionally deceive others. Well, most everybody doesn’t want to lie.Chances are you know better than U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, who lost his endorsements and faces tougher legal consequences after admitting he fabricated the story he told police and the media. No, he was not robbed at gun point in Rio; he and his teammates were actually at fault.You also may know better than former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane who was convicted recently on all counts of perjury and counts of abusing the power of her office.And most all would never do what Rachel Dolezal did; last year she made news because for years she lied about her race and her parentage—building her career on a fundamanetal lie.Accusations of lying may hinder Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, while fact checkers and pundits put competing statements by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump next to each other to guess which one is true, and which one is not.Being truthful has not ever been so difficult it seems.But as strong leaders in business or as entrepreneurs, telling the truth and being considered someone who is truthful – and not bent on lying—can be the best professional advice you heed. No lie.[bctt tweet=“As strong leaders in business, telling the truth can be the best professional advice you heed.” username=“takeleadwomen”]After Lochtegate, New York psychologist and author Jonathan Alpert told Leslie Gay Streeter of the Palm Beach Post,  that there is a gender difference in fibbing. Women “tend to lie more to their friends. They may say an outfit looks great on someone when it really doesn’t,” while men “lie to look better. It might come in the form of boasting,” Alpert said.That gendered definition of honesty may ring hollow. But how harmful are lies or partial truths in business? As strong leaders, and specifically as a woman leader, does stretching the truth really hurt?“There are no half-truths, only whole lies; yet telling only a fraction of the truth is extremely prevalent in the business world. Most half-truths are told because we want to protect someone, deflect blame, or take the easy way out,“ writes J.R. Garrett, co-founder of Logo Garden in Black Enterprise.Garret continues, “Even if the lie you tell your customer or business partner goes unnoticed, the act of lying can alter your state of mind. According to Linda Stroh, a professor emeritus at Loyola University, even seemingly insignificant lies will take a toll on your health.”“It takes a lot of negative physical and mental energy to maintain a lie,” said Stroh. “We have to think before we answer, and we have to plan what we say and do, rather than saying and doing what comes more naturally.”Some lies are small and some lies are huge and those can be against the law. Bryce Sanders translates the business white lies for Going Concern, saying that it’s not so harmful telling someone you will call her back when you won’t. It might be a bigger problem to tell someone you are about to higher that salaries for everyone are the same at one level, when they are not.But some deceptions can be costly, as in Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, who was intentional about her wording, according to Bloomberg View’s Faye Flan, writing in Crain’s Chicago Business. Flan dissected Holmes’ speech at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry.“In her 90 minutes onstage, Holmes did not tell any obvious lies. Her genius was in the strategic leaving out of information — creating holes that people tend to fill with faulty assumptions. Instead of lying, she prompted people to lie to themselves. Understanding how to avoid being fooled by this technique is important, given how frequently it pops up in fields far beyond science. Fact-checkers often don’t spot this brand of deception.”Flan added, “Onstage, Holmes looked polished in a masculine-cut black suit, showing no hint that Forbes recently adjusted its estimate of her net worth from $4.5 billion to nothing. And in a surprise to some attendees, she didn’t talk about her company’s troubles or problems with its previous technology, which she had dubbed the Edison machine. Instead, she devoted the session to a brand new invention: the ‘miniLab,’ a medical-testing device.”Of course, as an ethical leader, you are not going to be an outright liar and mislead people to invest with you or tell stories that are untrue.Strong leaders do not lie. So how can you spot someone who is not so much on the same sunlit path?[bctt tweet=“Strong leaders do not lie.” username=“takeleadwomen”]The first step may be to check someone’s LinkedIn profile or CV, to make sure he or she really did earn that degree and work at those companies. While resume fabrications are not new, catching them quickly is.According to OnRec, a new online tool kit, Degree Fraud, can help. “Jayne Rowley, Higher Education Services Director at Prospects, said, ‘Fake degree certificates are widely available online for just a few pounds and there are thousands of bogus universities who fool people into thinking they are getting a degree. Both are often modelled on genuine universities, so it’s easy to see why employers may be duped. The only way to be sure a candidate is qualified to do a job is to check their claims with the awarding university.’Rowley adds, “It’s standard practice to verify references, qualification checks are often overlooked and they shouldn’t be. Just one incompetent or deceitful person in a business can have fatal consequences.”Fatal consequences won’t happen too often, but yes, there will likely be consequences if you or someone you hire or work with does not tell the truth about experience, abilities or knowledge set. This is way more complicated than Romy & Michele’s high school reunion and pretending you are the creator of Post-Its.It can be as simple as your parents, grandparents or teachers told you. Tell the truth. And if at some point out of fear, embarrassment, guilt or raw ambition, embellish the truth with no harm caused anyone? Fess up and make it right, come clean.Because it really isn’t truth that hurts.