Max De Pree, the former CEO of Herman Miller said, “It is the job of every leader to describe reality.” Using this simple sentence, Mr. De Pree has written wisely about his experience leading a Fortune 500 company operating in a highly-competitive market. Describing reality is another way to say, “Tell the truth.” It should go without saying, but all we have to do is read the headlines to see there is a need, first, to seek the truth, and then to tell the truth to all stakeholders – including shareholders, employees, vendors, and the media.
It is also important for leaders to look in the mirror and tell the truth. Nothing brings on trouble like trying to guild the lily, spin bad news, or make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There will be times when laws or regulations – for example, about disclosure – constrain what a leader can say and when he or she can say it. But whenever leaders talk, the words, the message, and the impressions left behind must reflect the truth.