At the end of an emotionally charged conversation with the leadership team of an organization, the CEO commits to a course of action that benefits the them and the organization. Jump ahead a few weeks. The CEO, without any prior discussion with the team, does a complete 180 and breaks his promise to the leadership team.
A married couple decides to adjust their budget to pay off a credit card. Several months into the new budget, with freedom from debt in sight, the husband goes on a spending spree with the card.
A woman tells her family, “I know that I have been working too many hours. I promise that I’ll be home for dinner every night.” Before the end of the next week she calls home, “I HAVE to get this project done tonight. I’ll be home late.”
How do you imagine the leadership team, the wife and the family mentioned felt? How quickly do you think that those who had their trust violated felt compelled to follow again?
Truth is leadership. Honesty increases followership.
1. Admit past failures. Acting like you’ve done nothing wrong is a good way to make sure no one will follow you into the future. Call those you’ve offended together and say, “I know that I have said and done things that have compromised my integrity. I haven’t been honest. It was wrong of me, and I am committing to be fully truthful into the future.”
2. Ask for another chance…but accept it if you don’t get it. Many people are filled with grace and are willing to offer a second (or more) chance. People’s grace though does expire. You may not receive another opportunity. If that is the case, move on with character.
3. Create a plan for total truth telling. What will you do to keep the temptation to cheat at bay? What will you do when that temptation surfaces? What is your plan for disclosing uncomfortable things about yourself? A coach is a great ally in helping you put plans like this together.
4. Obtain accountability. Find someone who will ask you regularly if you’ve been a person of truthfulness. Someone whom you care about so much that you won’t lie to them. Again, a coach can be a good partner in this!
5. Allow ZERO Margin for error. When you feel the temptation to ‘fudge the facts’, don’t. There is no wiggle room here. If you make a mistake, own up to it, don’t cover it up. Not even if you are positive that you could get away with it!
6. Evaluate Daily. Ask yourself this question every day before your head hits the pillow, “Have I acted with 100% truthfulness to the very best of my ability?”
When I’ve had the opportunity to coach/counsel married couples who have dealt with betrayal at any level, there is an important equation that I let them know about:
Truth + Time = Trust.
The most important thing is that you can restore trust rather simply. Just be honest in every thing, every day and wait. You can turn it around!