Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I have a periodic rant about integrity. That’s always a risky game, cos we’re all flawed when it comes to truth telling. If we were not then we’d struggle to get by in our complex social world. However here’s my latest, which first appeared on this blog from Caret, where I do some work on the overlap between communications and leadership. At the bottom are some additional thoughts for you lot:
Dave Snowden has written this good blog post about coherence, leadership and communications:
Not all great leaders are good communicators, fewer still are, or will ever be gifted story tellers. Ironically some of the worst leaders are only too good at telling stories and excel at communication. What really matters is the degree of coherence and integrity that is evident in the lived life of the leader as perceived by their employees and colleagues.
As a staff journalist I would sometimes have the argument with colleagues about the line between truth and honesty. A fact may be strictly true and can be set alongside other strictly true facts, but, as we know, the whole can still be totally dishonest.
Naturally enough whenever we strayed near that trap the package was all brilliantly communicated, regardless of how much integrity it had. After all that’s what we were trained to do. The end result though was never satisfying because it lacked integrity.
Often it was also really hard work. Why?
Because creating a semblance of coherence from something that is fundamentally flawed is devilishly difficult to do. But doing just that has become a staple technique for half hearted journalism and probably for a similar style of management. Disguising the lie has become a professional skill – acquired over years of experience. So how do you build in checks and balances to ensure you’re spending time on the stuff that really makes sense?
As Dave goes on to argue: “If nothing else leaders generally come as teams, the good ones take people with them over the years who compliment their skills. Training leadership crews rather than leaders may be one way to build more resilience into organisations”. In my mind one of the core strengths of a great team is to know what is honest and have a reflex action to communicate that. The pleasure of nailing something when you’ve also worked hard to do the right thing is enormous. Of course from time to time managers feel they can’t do that – but the wisest will never buy their own deceit. Make a habit of doing that and you’re most likely to end up being dismissed as, at best, incoherent.
So that’s what I wrote on the Caret blog – for an audience mostly interested in leadership. Here though I’m curious about how well you think online social media networks can function as that leadership team?
How easy is it to call each other to account when we sense a drift in the wrong direction? With people I know and trust I have sent a couple of private messages saying I though something was out of order – and been grateful to receive the same on a couple of occasions. Is this enough?