Thursday, May 23, 2013

LEAD BY EXAMPLE Part 1: Be Honest

In the introduction to this "Lead by Example" series, I shared my conviction that modeling certain behaviors--leading by example--sets apart the effective leader. In this post, I cover one of these critical behaviors: being honest.

Tell the truth to everyone, including your boss. But be sure you do it in a way that isn’t blaming or, worse, embarrassing. This may seem simple, but it can be difficult in practice. 

Here’s an example. Just recently, I was involved in a culture survey for a large organization in which the feedback from the employees was very negative. When this was presented to the CEO, he indicated no steps were to be taken, as his senior management team had assured him that the negative issues had already been addressed, just not in time to affect the survey. 

From our perspective, not addressing the situation would have been a mistake, both for the CEO and the entire organization. So we were happy when not long after that conversation, he came back to us seeking help in addressing the negative feedback. 

When asked about his change in direction, he confided that a female senior executive met with him in private to raise the concern that by choosing not to address the situation, he might be falling prey to sabotage by members of the senior team. 

Because she was honest in a discrete and constructive manner, the CEO valued her opinion, seeing her as more of an asset to him and to the organization. By taking the risk and being honest, she increased her own ability to influence decision-making in the organization a key leadership competency.

Links to all the other posts in this "Lead By Example" series:

•   Introduction
•   Be supportive 
•   Be reliable
•   Always seek to understand the big picture
•   Ask good questions
•   Be aware of your own assumptions
•   Practice integrity

For more information on leadership development, please visit our website at or email us at

This post was excerpted from “Lead by Example,” by Chris Musselwhite, originally published in American Executive June 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment

Follow by Email