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Mary Jo Asmus

Thank you for this great information, Steve. I appreciated the studies on lying. I think it's sad that leaders are sometimes told to "hold back" on certain information, particularly when the news is bad. I understand issues of confidentiality, but sometimes the information they withold really needs to be shared as long as it doesn't breach a personal confidentiality. And if information is withheld, you can bet that employees can smell it. Suspicion of less-than-truthfulness is generally worse than letting it out.

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo

I confess to having a mild smirk on my face when I see MBA programs touting "Ethics" classes, as if it is a deep philosophical issue that has many sides. Either you tell the truth or you don't. Anything else, IMHO, is the corporate version of "lawyering up" and seeing how many ways one can have "the law" interpreted. (What is the definition of "is"?).

I've always believed that the length of an explanation is a good indicator of its voracity. Truth comes in a sentence. BS comes in paragraphs.

Joan Schramm

Steve -- Count me in as also wondering why we need classes in ethics -- or why the Congress needs "ethics rules". Isn't it obvious? Truth/lies; integrity/cheating; sharing/shelfishness. Didn't we all learn that from our mommas?

What kind of person do you have to be, to need a rule so you know it isn't ethical to take payments from someone you're going to be doing business with in the future? How do you justify that it's OK to cut corners in manufacturing as long as no one finds out? What makes someone think that betting against your own investments is the right thing to do?

Shaking my head in bewilderment...

Thanks for your article!

michael cardus

With the view of ethics the problem is that it is only one class at most. Most of the leadership and MBA programs I have spoken to and consulted with have a small section of ethics that is covered in perhaps one class.
The area of ethics that is beyond that of morals are areas of justice, reciprocity, autonomy, privacy. Yes telling the truth falls into those categories. Reading Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics, or perhaps truly taking time to have students or employees explore actual ethical concerns from the organization. For example the blocking of facebook, impeding on employees private lives through hiring using social media presence. What is thought to be "obviously right" is another area that one may think is "obviously wrong".
The ignorance of what ethics is causes people to feel that what is "ethically correct" are relativistic post-modern thoughts of arguments.


Steve Roesler

Hello, Michael

Thanks for adding that take from your experiential perspective and I would encourage readers to have a look at the post that you offered http://bit.ly/d3oQNi

Teresa Thompson

Heard that! "You can't handle the truth." Oh yes I can. The truth is always the best way to go. The truth will minimize speculation, paranoia, wasted productivity trying to figure out what is really being said. Tell it like it is. Your teams will respect you more and work hard for you.
Your Virtual Retail Coach!

Oscar Marroquin

A few years ago the message was that we needed to take the change, own it and communicate in a supportive way, regardless of what we thought of it. The idea was that if the messager was not positive about the change, then how could we expect the people receiving the message to accept it. Over the years I have seen a change. I've been asked directly by my team to express my opinion. I must admit that its difficult. I have learned that they "can handle the truth" and actually are more supportive of the changes when the message is personalized. The message must always be communicated in a manner that it "can be heard." At the end of the day, the leader will be measured by how the change was communicated and supported.

Steve Roesler

Teresa and Oscar

Indeed. Adults need real info to make real decisions. Even if we don't like it, we're mature enough to know that all of life's events won't make us happy. We're also adult enough to know that we can make decent decisions with honest information.


Great ideas. I think most of the people who are labelled bad leaders are label so because they aren't honest about 1 or 2. As a result, followers arrive at the outcome and are disappointed.

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