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Lying Is the Top Issue Challenging Leaders

April 17, 2014

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I’ve seen fantastic lists of challenges that leaders face, ranging from acquiring more revenue to retaining talent.

What I haven’t seen on the list is the one thing that could make all the difference.

In fact I believe it is the top challenge we face as leaders.

Let me give you three examples.

  • I reviewed my business activities recently and recognised that I had put marketing and selling at a lower priority. I had focussed on improving my service delivery, my products and my internet presence.
    That improvement was of little use unless people were aware of my offer and my service.
    What was the real problem here?
  • The CEO wanted drastic improvement in her organisation’s culture. So she hired a consultancy to deliver cultural change techniques to her direct reports and middle management.
    She was too busy to attend other than to introduce the facilitators at a workshop.
    She also didn’t believe in coaching for leaders – they were senior enough to be able to recognise their own weaknesses and take action themselves.
    What was the real problem here?
  • The Sales Manager was deeply concerned about the lower than expected results coming from his team. He hired a sales motivator to talk to them. After a month of improvement, things slipped back. The best sales staff left. Staff turnover was too high.
    What was the real problem here?

When I looked in the mirror and asked myself about my situation, the first example above, I had to own up to the fact that my thinking was the real problem. I was avoiding something I was uncomfortable with. Marketing and sales.

Now I knew the importance of marketing and sales. But I was scared of failure in that arena. So I lied to myself about what I should be focussing on.

When I examined the other two examples above (they had become my clients) we discovered that each person had lied to themselves about the situation.

In both cases their thinking was the problem, but they had denied it, telling themselves lies to focus on something else. Just as I had.

When we faced the truth and addressed the core issues, all three examples were turned around.

We can become very good at lying and reasoning to ourselves. It is very human after all. It is born of fear.

Then they become habits and we begin to practice ignorance.

We need to be courageous enough to challenge our thoughts and act on what is better.

I believe that the lies we tell ourselves, born of fear, that become habits then ignorantly practice, is our top leadership challenge.

The remedy is the courage to face the truth then act on it.

What do you think?

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