A woman accompanied her very sick husband to the doctor's office. After the examination, the doctor asked the man to go out to the waiting room so that he could have a word with the woman.
“Your husband’s condition is grave.” He told her. “If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely die.”:
- Fix him a healthy breakfast every morning, and send him off to work in a good mood
- When he comes home, let him put his feet up and rest, making sure not to burden him with any worries or household chores.Prepare him a warm, nutritious meal for dinner every night.
-Be intimate with him several times a week and satisfy his every whim.
On the way home, the wife drove in silence. The husband finally asked, “Well, what did the doctor say?”“It’s bad news,” she replied. “He says you’re going to die.”
Although quite humorous, there is a lesson in this story...its easy to be completely honest!
Yet, honesty is a pillar of your character and character is one wing of the two-winged airplane of trust (the other is competency).
Trust is so extremely vital to every one of our relationships, to our businesses, our non-profits and our schools. Trying to do something without trust is like trying to run your lawnmower without gasoline. This seems ridiculous, but unfortunately I believe that we try to do it all the time. According to a 2005 Harris poll, only 51% of employees say that they have trust in their senior management and a mere 36% believe that their leaders act with honesty and integrity!
Trust is made up of our competency and our character. Perhaps over the years we have started to shift our focus away from being honest to being good at what we do. While I can see good value in that, General H. Normal Schwarzkopf put it best when he said if we must be without one of these wings, we should go without competency. Issues of competency can be overcome and people are much more inclined to forgive us for not doing our job right, but it is much harder to forgive us for a breach of honesty.
There's no lie about it, being honest is often not easy. It's easy to hide the bad news. It's simple to avoid conflicts. Often I find myself not providing full feedback to individuals because of how I think they will react, even though I know they will grow with the feedback. Sometimes I even notice that role play around certain people, hiding who I really am or avoiding the hard facts.
Perhaps we call all learn a lesson from Gordon Bethune, who took Continental Airlines from a near collapsed enterprise, to a very successful, world class organization. His policy was simple, "Unless it's dangerous or illegal for us to share it, we share it."
So, whether it is making sure that you share the full truth, being willing to provide feedback to help people grow, or being truly authentic with all around - have the courage to be honest, for this is the foundation of the trust wing.
Jason Hunt is a speaker, trainer and coach with the John Maxwell Leadership Team. He focuses on helping new and emerging leaders develop the leadership skill and character to have others want to follow them.