“If a reporter asked if you and Hardin were friends, I’d say “good friends”. If they asked if you were good friends, I’d say “lifelong friends”. Give them no place to go, nothing to report. No story. I mean, it’s no sense in defusing a bomb after it’s already…..it’s already gone off.” ~Jack Ryan – A Clear and Present Danger
“Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Listen, I won’t go into a big long speech about it because most of us should already know it, but let me give you a few reasons why it is so much EASIER to just be honest and insist on honesty in your operation. Hopefully you can use these to either convince a counterpart or give yourself some extra motivation to carry on:
Not a relaxing massage – It takes a lot of mental effort to “massage” the truth, which is really just telling white lies. This mental effort could be better spent working on departmental excellence.
Smoke and mirrors – Dishonesty is most rampant when hiding mistakes or poor results, yet these are the things that should be looked at MOST. Our failures are our best instructors, so if you hide them, you’re just extending the amount of time you’re going to be “in school”.
Don’t worry about memory lapse – What you said to whom and when you said it gets more and more and more complicated and time consuming as the lie ages. “Lies beget lies” is a very true statement that just adds more complication to things. Getting caught in a lie is one of the most cited reasons for being honest.
Stop the executioner in their tracks – Like the quote above, if you own your mistakes right away you stop the momentum of those reading you the riot act. Wise employees know that this is one of the best things you can do to show maturity on the job.
Breeds trust – When you have the trust of your staff, they don’t spend as much time second guessing what you said. You are also able to get buy-in quicker.
You get a re-do – Dishonest managers don’t get another chance to explain themselves, because logically they will just tell another lie. If you are an honest manager, you will get a chance to explain yourself again because it is logical to believe they will get more of the original truth.
It often seems easier to tell a “white lie” than to tell the whole truth, but as with most poor management techniques, it is short sighted. I hope this gives you a few more arguments to stay on the course of honesty.