Lying Leaders Are More Common than you Think
Men who say they love ties are liars, just like women with deformed toes love red-soled high heels.
If clothes make the man, he’s pitiful.
If clothes make the woman, she’s self-deceived.
No one runs to put on a tie or heels when they get home from work. Instead they throw off their painful costumes and get real. Don’t misunderstand me. Culturally appropriate clothing is a desirable inconvenience. Just don’t believe the lies you tell.
Self-deception is incurable apart from painful intervention.
Lies leaders tell themselves:
#1. “I’m better than.”
You’re no better than the people you lead, even if you have a tie or heels. Yes, you may know how to do this or that, but a big salary has no connection to human worth.
Feeling superior is based on the lie that others are less than.
Leaders who changed the world worked with social misfits.
#2. “That’s easy.”
Self-deception begins when you tell yourself that things you aren’t doing are easy. Think of cleaning toilets, raising kids, or leading frontline teams.
Lies leaders tell others:
#1. “You’re next in line for promotion.”
Has anyone ever asked you to be happy when you were passed over for a promotion? Leaders who promise promotions must believe they’re gods controlling the future.
Never dangle the promise of promotion unless you’re god. You might say, “If it’s within my control, you’re next in line.” Or, “I’ll do what I can to help you earn a promotion.”
#2. “I know the way.”
If nothing changes, the past predicts the future perfectly. Beyond that, there’s humility, work, and good fortune.
The future isn’t predictable. Instead, it’s created by informed decisions, bold action, and agile responses.
The ingredients for yesterday’s cake might work tomorrow. Then again, they might not.
What lies might leaders tell themselves?
What lies have you heard leaders tell others?
Top 10 Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
The Two Biggest Lies Leaders Believe
“You’re no better than the people you lead”. This statement is so true that every leader must keep it in their mind and heart. A leader’s success is only the success of his/her People/Team.
Thanks Sam. When we forget that we depend on others we get too big for our breeches.
Love these ideas! For a great read about lies and self-deception, check out the work of the Arbinger Institute and their book Leadership and Self-Deception.
Thanks Edgar. Yes, that’s a wonderful read.
Great post, Dan! Let me add that leaders aren’t lying when they believe what they say. Self-delusion is an enticing toxin that can lead to all the counterproductive patterns you highlighted today. All the best!
Thanks Paul. Perhaps the most dangerous lie is the one we think is true.
The biggest lie leaders tell themselves is that “Success or failure of the organization depends entirely on me.” From personal experience I know the pressure this puts on a leader how it can backfire.
Thanks Gayle. Learning to trust and depend on others is a giant leap forward for overstuffed leaders.
I have a stack of index cards where I capture ideas I want to review again. This sentence is going into that stack today. “The future isn’t predictable. Instead, it’s created by informed decisions, bold action, and agile responses.” Thank-you Dan!
Thanks Jenny. It’s a pleasure to provide something for your stack of cards!
Ethicist Michael Josephson asks the question, “How many times do you get to lie before you are a liar?”
It is, in my experience, a slippery slope from self-deception to deceiving others. Shaw said, “The liar’s punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” The chronic liar comes to expect that others are always lying as well. I have dealt with many liars, worked with a few liars, and even worked for one accomplished liar. They were not trustworthy nor trusting people. In the case of the one chronic liar who was my boss for a time, he was nearly paranoid. Shortly after I was assigned to his team, he approached me privately and asked, “What are the other team members saying about me?” I answered honestly,” I haven’t heard anyone say anything about you. What should we be saying?” He mumbled that he was just trying to root out any “malcontents” to make sure no one was “spreading discord.” He never asked me again, but I found out from teammates that he was polling all of us individually. He didn’t trust us to do our jobs, and we couldn’t trust him to provide leadership. He, however, believed himself to be a good leader and a man of good character. I guess that’s the ultimate self-deception, My assignment to his team was only for six months but it seemed much longer. MY point: A liar has no foundation on which to build real leadership skills. Integrity must be protected at every turn. Great post!
Thanks Jim. I take your comment to be a powerful warning. It seems that the way we see others reflects the way we see ourselves. Or, the way we see ourselves is the way we see others. But, the idea that liars worry about be lied to feels insightful.
Liars are paranoid. Or, they eventually become paranoid.
Great stuff today! If we lie to others than we are lying to ourselves and living a life full of deceit and false conclusions. Stay true to your self and good things will happen. Once a Liar always a Liar. Better to be truthful than lie and be found out! The Ten commandments are written to follow and guide. Chose the right choices. The old cliche’, “Heaven is but a sin away.
Thanks Tim. Stay true to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Then you know what honesty with others looks like.