Leaders: How to Be a Lying SOB


Liars – Are Leaders Honest Enough?

I expect most everyone would argue that leaders must have high ethics and be honest with their dealings with each other, but are leaders really being honest?

Big Question: 

As leaders, at all levels in the organization, are we honest enough to have “real” conversations?

On Being Genuine

I have often posited that the majority of problems we face as leaders, or followers for that matter, in our organizations could be eliminated if we would have the genuineness to be honest to each other and most importantly ourselves.

However, my experience suggests that when placed in face-to-face or stressful situations where this honesty is most important, we verbiage (fudge) just enough to avoid the real conversation and the conversation that is really needed.

On Being Ineffective

Paul Morin’s article, 7 common traits of ineffective leaders, provides a valuable view of what ineffective leaders do, but why do these leaders have these ineffective traits.

I would suggest that with many, it is because they have trouble being honest with themselves first and with others second.

On Being Right

I understand that some leaders are more interested in being right than getting it right.

And always remember that aberrant leadership behavior can be driven from this self-serving position.

However, I also believe, and my experience supports, that most leaders want to do what is right, and it is their inability to be candid that stimulates the ineffective behavior.

That is, even the most ethical, caring, and utility-focused leader will often cave and become disingenuous when faced with stressful conversation. They turn from a normal and healthy leader into one who looks to the dark side for their short-term gain.

They become a lying leader.

On Being a Lying Son of a Gun Leader

For example, these type of stressed-out leaders can turn to these unbecoming tricks:


Is it possible that the leader is micro managing because she can’t be honest to herself about her elevated view of her capabilities or diminished view of her followers’ capabilities?

Unclear Objectives

Is it possible that the leader is unclear about the objectives because he won’t be honest about his inability to create solid objectives and his unwillingness to be honest to others about the need for help?

Frequent Direction Changes

Is it possible that the leader changes direction frequently because he is concerned about where the organization is really heading and believes the employees can’t handle the truth?

No Culture of Accountability

Is it possible that the no culture of accountability exist because the leader is unwilling to have the tough and candid conversation with those who are not performing well?

Don’t Walk Their Talk

Is it possible that the reason the leader doesn’t walk the talk is she really doesn’t believe the talk in the first place?

Run People Over

Is it possible that the leader runs people over because he is unwilling to be honest with himself about his lack of self-esteem?

Take Credit for Everything

Do you agree that taking credit for everything is dishonest behavior and a perfect example of lying to everyone?

I believe the answer to each of these examples is YES! But I believe it is much more than possible on organizations.

I believe it is actually PREVALENT in our organizations!

Low EQ

This dishonesty could be driven from low emotional intelligence, a romantic view of leadership, or an inability to handle conflict. Regardless of the reason for the dishonesty, the lack of candor throughout our business organizations is the single biggest reason I see preventing high performing teams and delivery of superior results.


In order to stop this, leaders must get a grip on what they are doing that undermines their credibility and put a stop to it. Leaders need to get on a course of credibility and authenticity so that their followers have something of import to follow. Leaders need to stop lying to themselves and do what it takes to have a healthy look in the mirror so that they can project this type of authenticity to their teams.

Do you believe most leaders or followers are honest enough to have real conversations in their organizations? What can we, as leaders and change agents, do to encourage a culture where respectful and candid (real) conversations take place? How much better would our organizations be if we could create an environment of respect and genuineness?


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Dr. Greg Howes
is Director of Program Management Office at Harris CapRock

He helps clients  optimize their performance every aspect of business and success
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Image Sources:  afunfair.files.wordpress.com


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