Birds do it. Bees do it. Even big celebrities do it.
I’m referring, of course, to lying. Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to say that birds and bees don’t tell the truth (maybe), but we humans lie all the time. Lawyers, politicians, scientists, members of the clergy, parents, children—everyone who has ever walked the Earth has deceived, misinformed, or withheld the truth from another person (or themselves) at some point. Lying is normal. And honestly, it’s frequently harmless…
…until it isn’t.
While some lies don’t really hurt anyone—“nice haircut!” for instance, or “sorry, I literally just saw your email”—other lies can have serious, life-shattering effects.
This latter category rarely includes the individual fibs and half-truths we’re all guilty of, but the organization-wide patterns of dishonest behavior and misconduct we see in the news. Think of recent stories involving Facebook, Uber, Volkswagen, and Equifax. Then there’s the litany of alleged sexual predators, exploiters, and serial harassers—from Harvey Weinstein to Korean pop performers Seungri and Jung Joon-young—whose superstar status bought their protection. And speaking of powerful people with networks built on secrets and dishonesty, how about that college admissions scandal?
Want to stop the same issues from stinking up your company?
In a Harvard Business Review article from February, Carucci digs into a 15-year longitudinal study his team conducted to understand “the systemic factors that might influence whether or not people in organizations distort or withhold the truth from one another.” Here’s what the study found:
“Our research yielded four factors—individual character traits, but organizational issues—that played a role. The good news is that these factors are completely within a corporation’s control and improving them can make your company more honest, and help avert the reputation and financial disasters that dishonesty can lead to.”
Interestingly enough, those factors don’t just sink a company’s integrity, but cause inefficiencies as well as—and this probably goes without saying—workforce compliance issues. Take a look at the 4 reasons organizational cultures of dishonesty take hold:
CEOs may do it, K-pop stars may do it, even Ivy League universities may do it—but let’s not do it. Let’s not allow lying to become the norm. To see how you can lead your organization to a more honest, open, and integrity-driven future, check out the tools in our Resource Library.