Honesty and Leadership

A friend who works for the State Police told me about a great boss he once had. On the first day of work, he called my friend into his office to officially welcome him aboard. Near the end of the meeting, the boss said, “There’s one last thing I need to tell you, and I say this to everyone who works for me. If you ever, ever lie to me, you will be fired before you hit the floor at the bottom of the stairs.”  

It’s just that important. Honesty is the concrete foundation on which our reputation and character rest. Destroy that foundation, and everything else comes crashing down.

In my 17 years in the Air Force, I’ve only had one bad boss, and it was dishonesty that brought him down. People can forgive mistakes and overlook a lot of flaws, but dishonesty in inexcusable. Nobody wants to work with someone they can’t trust. Ever.

So be honest about your mistakes; even the big ones that you really want to hide. Don’t hesitate. Don’t think it through. Just be honest. Always and quickly. That’s the kind of foundation upon which truly great leaders are built.