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Have we lost the concept of truth in leadership?

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Night coverage was the most-watched in U.S cable news history according to Reuters and Nielsen data. It was also likely the first major U.S. election for which Canadian media outlets frequently reported the number of lies told during debates and appearances.

In the third and final presidential debate on October 19, 2016, in Las Vegas, Donald Trump was reported as making 37 false and misleading statements. More recently, he was reported as making 42 false statements in his first two weeks in office. Many other political leaders, including Canadian ones, have had their own questionable incidents - though none as blatant and excessive as Donald Trump’s.

Should a potential Leader of the Free World, or any other political office, be able to use dishonesty to secure his or her position in office? While many are shouting a resounding, “No!” many others (generally supporters) make excuses for these mistruths. Which begs the question: Have we lost the concept of truth in leadership?

In the case of Donald Trump, we have heard many excuses. Some shake it off as simply exaggeration on Trump’s part. Some say it was just a joke. But then where does the responsibility of truth in leadership lie? And what impact do these deceptions have on a company, on a nation, on the world?

Although no longer self-evident, truth in leadership is a very important and necessary thing. Without truth, there is no transparency and without transparency, there can be no individual accountability.

Recently, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President of the United States, was asked if Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, was lying when he said President Trump’s inauguration was the most-watched ever. Conway’s response was that the press secretary did not lie, rather that he gave “alternative facts.”

This is a classic example of leadership based on misdirection, misinformation, omission and fabrication and it allows people to lay blame everywhere but at their own doorstep. If we perpetuate a culture of, it’s not my fault, the decisions we make are destined to fail. Whether it is the decisions we make in a voting booth or the decisions we make in our everyday lives.

As an executive coach and team leader, I have been working towards building a society of values-based leaders for over 20 years – a job I have always taken very seriously! But with the recent election of Donald Trump, my job has become increasingly more important.

In this world of chaos and uncertainty, it’s more evident than ever that leadership isn’t simply about getting things done. It is about the wake we leave, the people we impact, and whether, as we check things off our to-do lists, we leave our organizations, our communities and our world in a better position.

There is no doubt in my mind that the United States, and unfortunately the world, has already taken a major step back by electing Donald Trump. But now is the time for us, each of us, to step-up and to stand up for ourselves and others. Now is the time to hold others, and ourselves, accountable. Now is the time to lead.


Michele Ferrari is a certified executive coach (CPCC) with over 20 years of experience and a passionate believer in the true impact of values-based leadership. Michele is available to organizations looking for an executive coach and/or team facilitator. She is also available for media interviews and as an expert source for stories related to leadership, organizational transformation, business strategy, executive and career coaching and self-improvement. Please contact Melissa Morra for more information.

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