Many individuals in leadership positions consistently censure their remarks, often to the point of rarely being forthcoming. Many “leaders” seem to fear “going out on a limb,” or disclosing too much information, or it seems being too clear about what they really think and feel. This less than truthful rhetoric is often one of the reasons that much of the public consistently mistrusts its leaders.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as a half-truth; one either tells the truth or he does not. Albert Einstein wrote, “If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.” The real question we should all ask is why our leaders can’t just tell the full, unaltered truth.
1. Often, a leader fears telling the whole truth because it may not shed him in a good light. He therefore resorts to what is known as spin, or shaping the truth in the best possible light. Spin often occurs when a political or organizational leader tries to explain a less than popular position or vote.
These leaders seem to underestimate their constituents intelligence or how savvy the observer may be. I often refer to this as the “arrogance of leadership,” but succinctly put, this technique is often done because the leader tries to explain away the fact that he was merely “playing politics.”
2. Most elected officials are merely representatives (and often not effective or true ones) and are not leaders. As representatives, they often place themselves first, or try to take the easy way out. They tell half-truths to not admit, either to themselves or their constituents, that they are not doing as good a job as they should be.
3. Like many of us, those in leadership positions prefer comfort to effectiveness. Their comfort zone often keeps them from pursuing certain things to it’s fullest, or being completely candid with their thoughts, ideologies and ideas.
4. Instead of taking personal responsibility, these individuals often resort to the blame game, to attempt to shelter themselves. In doing this, they often use a sort of revisionist history, and explain what happened by making themselves look better, and then shedding others in a bad light.
There really is no such thing as a half-truth. Either someone tells the truth or he does not. How can you pick and choose your facts, and represent yourself as truthful. Leaders lacking integrity find it impossible to effectively lead.
By Bryan Oliver