Being honest with ourselves about our strengths, our abilities and our liabilities is helpful in any setting. When we can be honest with ourselves, we can be honest with other people. Creating a healthy workforce is crucial and necessary despite living and working in an era where being transparent or admitting mistakes can be perceived as a weakness. Authenticity guru, Brené Brown, calls this societal issue a “scarcity culture” where we view ourselves as never enough. Unfortunately, we often live in fear that others will see us as we see ourselves; not good enough.
Leaders can make a difference in our "scarcity culture” by acknowledging that making mistakes is human. Making mistakes from a springboard of honesty can lead to growth. If honesty is a key component to success in the workforce, then we have to be willing to acknowledge our own mistakes and weaknesses as leaders to foster a climate of truth. To be a courageous leader, we must allow room for our colleagues and employees to give us honest feedback. According to Forbes, most people in leadership roles do not have anyone telling them the truth. Think about the implications for leadership.
When it comes to our elected leaders, honesty in thought and action are often lacking. Misinformation and corruption are running rampant and the effects on our countries and their institutions will be long lasting. Author, Geoff Loftus who wrote, Lead Like Ike; Ten Business Strategies from the CEO of D-Day, believed that Eisenhower’s greatness was tied to his uncanny ability to be sincere. Eisenhower once said, “I know only one method of operation. To be as honest with others as I am with myself.”
Loftus elaborates on Ike’s ability to be forthcoming when he writes:
"In the morning hours of June 5, 1944 with the fate of D-Day invasion of Normandy and the millions of lives hanging in the balance, Eisenhower proved his greatness as leader and a man by writing a note accepting the blame if it turned out to be a disaster. “Our landings have failed…and I have withdrawn the troops…if any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
What do we learn from Eisenhower’s leadership journey? First, set an example as a leader and take risks; the risk to be open and honest with oneself and others and encourage colleagues to do the same. In healthy workplaces, leading by example with honesty and integrity leads to increased innovation, collaboration and quality of work. Lead by example. Lead like Ike.