The following is an excerpt from the book, 10 Things You Were Told as a Child That Are Influencing You as a Leader; and The Alternative Messaging That Will Demystify Your Role. This particular excerpt is from Chapter Two; “Don’t Lie.”
Enjoy! The book in its entirety will be released summer 2016.
..And How This Influences Values
“Pretty much all the honest truth telling
in the world is done by children.”
“An honest man is always a child. “
Honesty is an interesting concept, as is its counterpart; lying. Humans lie mostly to protect self and/or others. Since lying is about protection, it could be said lying- or not telling the truth-may involve a level of empathy, integrity, and/or compassion. Following this uncomfortable path may also suggest honesty can possess a lack of empathy, hurtful behavior, and/or lack of integrity. The area around truth telling is a grey one, protected by filters, beliefs, life experiences, and the ability to understand self and others.
Typically children are told to “not lie,” and “be honest.” Yet, when they speak through their young, unfiltered thoughts, they may be punished.
Aunt Edna comes for a visit and Mommy says, “Bobby, give your Aunt Edna a kiss.” Little Bobby says, “But I don’t like Aunt Edna, she smells funny.” Little Bobby is not rewarded for his honesty! This is how integrity, empathy, and a compassion for others are developed. This is the natural developmental process and how we learn from our environment what behaviors are and are not acceptable.
What is the Intention?
The general intention behind teaching children not to lie is to instill values. Honesty is often touted as a basic required value.
The business community asks for honest leaders and employees.
What Is The Common Outcome?
The challenge in instilling values is not in the telling; it is in the role modeling. Moreover, young people will watch what their parents and other influential role models do; and are more likely to mimic what they observe than what they are told.
When the message is as important as values, consistency is crucial. When the message is inconsistent and incongruent and and approval is a moving target, Billy-and direct reports- will experience confusion!
Billy has been repeatedly told “don’t lie; it’s wrong.” “Be honest.” Yet, Dad gets pulled over for speeding with Billy and makes up a story to get out of a ticket. He lies.
Mom and Sally plan a day to go shopping and run errands. She calls her boss and says she is sick, wishes she could come in, knows she is really putting her boss in a bind, but she does not want anyone else to get what she has. Sally is disappointed. When Mom hangs up and asks why she is crying, she tells her, “oh no honey, I am not really sick, that is just what I said so that I can take the day off!” She lies.
Mom asks Dad if the dress she is wearing makes her hips looks big. Billy thinks the dress makes his Mom look as wide as a Mack truck and starts to say so, except Dad quickly cuts in and say, “Oh honey, I think you look very nice.” He lies.
While Billy and Mom are at the grocery store, Mom is fuming over the cell phone to a girlfriend about how angry she is with her husband. They get home. She delivers the silent treatment. Dad asks her if something is wrong, she replies, “oh no, I have just had a really bad day and I am really tired.” She lies.
Dad asks Billy why his grades posted on the parent info site are showing missing assignments. Did he not tell them he had completed his homework? Billy starts to explain. Dad interrupts; “did you lie to us?”
So what is the outcome?
Values end up being something that are spoken of- but not acted on. The double standard gets implemented. I can tell YOU what to do, but I will NOT be held to the same standard. Individual transactions may provide results; however, long term results will be inconsistent.
Adult Bob tells his direct report Bill he is performing as expected, while at the same time complaining continuously to others about Bill’s performance.
Adult Bill is silently furious with one of his direct report for catching a project billing error.
Adult Sally has been given knowledge of an employee’s time theft from the company. Sally believes she should report or act on the behavior; however she has concerns over having to fill this particular position.
Adults are products of their socialization process and their messaging is playing out in their adult leadership roles every day in the business community! Behaviors that were rewarded and punished, inconsistencies that were experienced, incongruent messages, moving boundaries, and subtle messages are now often defining what is and is not Ok for direct reports.
How Does This Align With The Common Purpose?
If the goal is to facilitate the development of a solid value system, “telling” is clearly not the most effective approach, particularly when telling is supported by incongruent behavior. Being completely honest at all times is a willingness to sacrifice self and others; to be victims versus products of our values system.
The purpose of the message is to create a values system that guides behavior, decisions, and how to treat self and others.
There a difference between honesty and integrity.
Sometimes it is necessary to be truthful and it hurts. At times the truth is just plain hurtful and lying is the kind and decent thing to do.
A common purpose teaches not what to –or not to- do, it teaches why or why not.
What Is The Alternative?
Cont… in 10 Things You Were Told as a Child That Are Influencing You as a Leader; and The Alternative Messaging That Will Demystify Your Role.