Tag Archives: truth


When Leadership Requires Tough Love

Being a leader isn’t easy! Many challenges exist in the world of leadership, and one of the most difficult is when a leader must use the concept of “tough love” to elicit growth in a team member. I could write something on the topic, but I’m going to instead let my buddy Bret Simmons do the talking! Bret recently posted the article, The Process of Leadership Requires Tough Love. Please visit his blog and let him know you were there!

Here’s Bret…

The first book we read in my MBA class on Leading Change is “Building the Bridge as You Walk on It” by Robert E. Quinn. The key point of the book is that organizations do not change significantly unless someone inside the organization changes significantly; hence, self-change is the key to organizational change. Ever increasing integrity is the driving force of self-change; the discipline to chose to daily confront the biggest hypocrite you will ever encounter in your organization – the one you see in the mirror.  It’s a brilliant book that applies the systems thinking principle of purposeful emergence across scale to leadership and change.

Toward the very end of the book is a chapter about tough love and leadership that is ripe with wisdom. Here are some of the notes from that chapter that I share with my students:

  • Tough love is the integration of toughness and love; the ability to be both compassionate and assertive.
  • Those who treat us with tough love disturb the habitual way in which we choose to see ourselves by asking tough questions or making tough statements
  • When most people think of tough love, they split the oppositions and focus only on being tougher but forget the importance of also growing in compassion
  • We cannot inform people into tough love. We can only invite others into that creative state when we practice tough love ourselves
  • You must learn as a follower the value of telling others what they need to hear or you will never invite this from others when you become a leader
  • Withholding the truth from others is a selfish, rather than a purposeful posture. Choosing comfort over truth is irresponsible.
  • Selfish people will punish you for telling them the truth; but that does not relieve you of the responsibility to do so. If you don’t learn to practice responsible freedom in tough love then you allow yourself to be enslaved by someone else’s comfort zone.
  • We don’t transform by learning concepts; we transform when we commit to a higher purpose.

It’s clear to me that in order to practice tough love as a leader you have to develop the discipline as a follower. The process of leadership requires authentic relationships where everyone assumes responsibility for giving and receiving honest, purposeful feedback. There is no integrity in playing charades.

At the end of Quinn’s chapter on tough love, he offers a list of helpful hints for practicing the discipline. As I read the list again last night, I was struck by how well they capture the essence of effective leadership.

  • Know the collective result you want to create
  • Know what difficult standards are necessary to create that result
  • Model complete integrity around the standard
  • Hold everyone to the same standard that you are modeling
  • Make no exceptions
  • Let people go if they cannot live the standard
  • No one is more important than the collective good
  • Challenge others to exceed their current capabilities
  • Spend time with people you seek to lead
  • Show genuine concern for their needs
  • Make all topics discussable, including your own behavior

That’s a darn good list of suggestions. Don’t miss the fact that the responsibility to model complete personal integrity to the espoused standards comes before holding anyone else accountable. The only way to ensure you are not making an exception for yourself is to invite others to hold you accountable, just as you would hold them accountable. More than an invitation, it has to be an expectation. It’s irresponsible for any follower to not hold him or herself accountable for helping you hold yourself accountable.

If you really care, then you will find the courage to say what needs to be said. If you never tell the truth, then you really don’t care. You must care if you want to matter.

It’s your responsibility to want to matter. You’re not entitled to matter, you have to earn it by the choices you make on a daily basis.

- Special thanks to Dr. Bret Simmons for sharing his wisdom with us. This was originally posted on www.bretlsimmons.com

Your Coach,



6 Fears That Lead You to Rationalize Your Behavior- Clarity #33

The evolution of a leader includes an ever-increasing emotional intelligence, starting with self-awareness. If you lack self-awareness, you are unable to see when you step out of integrity. In other words, you are unable to see how your words, thoughts, and actions are not in alignment. This dissonance forces an auto response to spin the story — leading to compromised truth, ending with a skewed reality.

Conversely, if you’re a leader with high self-awareness, you are able to quickly discern when and where you are out of alignment with truth. You quickly see your error, admit fault, and take personal accountability. You take action to repair the crack in the relationships due to lack of judgment, and with your words and action, you own the issue at hand. The humility of the self-aware leader leaves plenty of room to learn from mistakes, be curious to what you do not yet know, and be open to feedback as a way to learn and grow.

Most people don’t intentionally rationalize. It comes from being scared, to be blunt. If you have taken the Talent Insight Report, you know that there are four fears that people struggle with and will do most anything to avoid.

  • Fear of Being Taken Advantage Of
  • Fear of Social Rejection
  • Fear of Loss of Security
  • Fear of Making Mistakes

Or how about the two fears of the successful entrepreneur:

  • Will I be found out?
  • Do I have what it takes?

Fear gets in the way of truth, and thus we must rationalize or falsify something in order to psychologically survive and bring a sense of order and control.

What do you think? What are other fears that cause leaders to rationalize?

Your Coach,


Quotes on Truth and Lying

It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. – Adrian Rodgers

Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings.

An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality. As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others. –Chuck Swindoll

The ability to lie is a liability. –Unknown

Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying. – Vincent de Paul

When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken, or cease to be honest. –Unknown

False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. – Plato (427 BC-347 BC)

Half a truth is often a great lie. – Benjamin Franklin

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Are You a Liar?

Maybe that’s too harsh. Are you a liar, or do you “just” tell white lies to get what you want?

Are you feeling defensive right now? Is a twinge of guilt washing over you as you to scan for the unsubscribe button?

This article is for leaders who believe they are people of integrity. Anyone who holds “integrity, honesty, respect” as core values, this is for you, because I believe you truly want to honor your values. Sadly, it is inevitable that we lie almost every day — to ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, and strangers. We consider ourselves honest, but we lie whenever it serves us.

The Stress of Lying

Why am I being so direct and harsh? Because I am seeing too many leaders buckle under stress and trade in their values for a quick fix to their problems. The more stressed you are, the more lies you tell, and the deeper is the hole you are digging for yourself.

Trust me, I have been coaching leaders for 15 years. The stress from living a lie will destroy you, and the innocent people around you. In the end, the family you want to protect and provide for is the most devastated by your lies.

Where Does It Start?

Cognitive Dissonance is a social psychology term I find fascinating. Basically, you can’t believe one thing and behave in an opposite manner. The psychological stress (or dissonance) it causes forces one or the other (the belief or the action) to change. So, you either justify the lie in your head so that you can continue to (falsely) uphold your integrity value, or you abandon the lie and start living as a person of integrity lives.

Thus lying starts with self-betrayal. You betray your own values and then begin blaming another person or circumstance for your own self-betrayal. Again, you cannot live with the stress or dissonance of betraying your own values, so your integrity goes out the window and you begin to live in your altered reality.

I use an excellent book called Leadership and Self-Deception with my high-performing leadership teams. It talks about how quickly we can put people “in the box” and treat them as objects instead of human beings. We have no problem lying about them and destroying them, because of the story we are telling ourselves from our own imprisoned box.

Leaders Spin and Sell the Lie

If you are stuck in the spin cycle, you will need to hire a coach to support you as courageously you journey back to your integrity. Without outside perspective we will spin stories and get others to agree with our “story.” When we are living in our own self-betrayal and out of alignment from our own values, there is a need to sell our lie to get other people to join us. When there is a common enemy to fight, there is unity; however, when we create the enemy out of our own self-betrayal we are headed down a path of mass destruction.

Now, please keep your social filters in place and use common sense as you process what I’m saying. But also challenge yourself to stop tolerating this cowardly — and I might add, narcissistic — behavior. Wouldn’t you agree that liars are cowards? I know when I lie that is what I am — a coward! It takes a brave person to confront the lies in their life and take ownership of their own behaviors.

How Does It End?

Basically, this is how it ends. You either commit to just STOP IT! Or you remove integrity from your resume and continue being a liar.
One way or another, as a leader you will be found out. In the end, truth wins out. WhiIe it takes years to build a reputation and credibility, it takes mere moments to destroy it. You can play the game for just so long and at the worse possible moment the house of cards will fall.
Choose to be brave today. Choose integrity. Stop listening to anyone who is leading you deeper into lying. Be a courageous truth teller who does not self-protect, but faces life trusting that integrity is the most valuable asset for a leader.
You are not alone. If you are stuck, reach out. We help leaders get out of the spin cycle, so don’t believe the lie you are on your own. You can be supported and on the way to being the best you! Today. Just ask.
Your Coach for Clarity,