Honesty Is The Best Policy

Kiersten Griesback

Ever since I was little, I have always been a straightforward person. My sisters learned not to ask for my opinion on clothes or other matters, unless they were prepared to hear my real thoughts. Some would refer to me as “brutally honest.” Maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t. But no matter what you call it, honesty has always been one of my top values.

Recently, I was reading an online article published by Forbes titled “Leadership is About Emotion.” This piece discussed many of the qualities or skills that we often associate with leadership, while mainly focusing on how leaders can connect emotionally to those that follow them. Under the category of honesty, there were a few sentences that struck a cord with me. “Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about a so-called leader losing credibility because he or she was dishonest. Often this is because of pressure to try and “measure up” and it’s not coming from a place of being real.” While it’s true that there are examples of dishonesty prevalent throughout our society, what does that have to do with being real?

Honesty is about more than just telling the truth. It requires being transparent, and not hiding the things about you that you think people may not like. Honest leaders are successful because they allow those that are following them to see their true selves; the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you allow your followers to see this side of you, it creates a trust that is not easily broken. It also allows them to connect with you on a more emotional level, and they may even realize that they have a lot of things in common with you. Whether you share the same weaknesses or strengths, the fact that you have something in common is what matters.

In my mind, honesty is closely related to vulnerability. In a TED talk by Brené Brown on vulnerability, she describes how we put “armor around our hearts every morning” to protect ourselves from letting people see our true feelings. A person that is truly honest is willing to let people see their flaws, and know their mistakes. They are willing to be vulnerable, and be transparent about their experiences, whether they are good or bad.

Personally, I strive to be honest in every aspect of my life. I am not ashamed of my mistakes; I see them as an opportunity to grow and learn. By allowing people to see all sides of me, I believe that I can become closer to them and form more lasting relationships. I can create a sense of connection that drives trust and eventually loyalty, which are two vital components of the leadership dynamic. I aspire to “be real” every day, and to inspire others to follow suit.

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