Have you noticed how often people try to influence you these days? Every day we find ourselves bobbing on a virtual ocean of social media, email, pop-up ads and a host of spun news sources. Everyone is manipulating us to get what they want. It’s easy to feel like a pawn in the midst of this media storm.
So what does this have to do with leadership? Everything! Leaders who unconsciously choose to use this same methodology to lead others find themselves dead in the water, and here’s why.
All humans want to feel valued and to be shown respect in their relationships with others. A leader that buys into spinning the truth to avoid difficult messages sacrifices their own credibility in the end.
I recently saw “leadership spin” in action within an organization. A staff member who was terminated five years earlier made the news at his new job when he was arrested for sexual assault. The media picked up the story and it soon took on a life of its own. Speculation became rife and fingers pointed in the organization’s direction.
Unfortunately, there was no leader in our organization willing to simply say the truth. Instead, a “spin doctor” firm was hired to “investigate” and then present the findings to their employees. When the media storm and the accompanying investigation was over, many employees were left questioning their leaders’ ability to speak the truth. Members felt confused and betrayed: apparently their leaders believed that they could not be trusted with the truth!
Leaders have many opportunities to make mistakes and sometimes the message is messy. But a courageous leader cultivates vulnerability, shares the truth and apologizes for mistakes. This is the place that allows real human connection and its most essential cement, trust, to flourish.