4 Ways Leaders Can Tell If They’re Hearing the Full Truth

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Leaders must be truth-tellers.

But it’s equally important to be truth-hearers. In order to chart a strong, accurate course, leaders must know they are receiving honest, direct feedback.

But the reality is, every leader has experienced an occasion when the answer to a question has sounded somehow “off”. It might not have sounded like a blatant lie, but you simply couldn’t shake the notion that what you were hearing in response was something less than truthful.

Some call this intuition. Some call it having your “Spidey-sense tingling”. Many call this their “BS meter” sounding an alarm.

Call it what you will, if you want to lead with certainty through tumultuous times, it is vitally important that you know when you are being told the straight goods, and when you are being told something less than the full truth.

Here are four simple indicators that the answer to the question you have just asked might not be 100% truthful…

When the timing doesn’t match the question

  • “Why is it taking so long to get an answer to a simple question?”
  • “How can they have responded so quickly to a complex question?”

When the extent of the answer doesn’t match the question.

  • “Why is the answer to this simple question rambling on for so long?”
  • “Why can’t I get a more comprehensive answer to this complex question?”

When the focus of the answer doesn’t match the question.

  • “Why is the answer to this question veering into unrelated areas?”

When the tone of the answer doesn’t match the question.

  • “Why am I receiving such a light-hearted response to a serious question?”
  • “Why am I receiving such a serious response to a light-hearted question?”

Global Leadership Summit founder Bill Hybels has stated a leadership axiom that states, “When something feels funky, engage!” In other words, a leader must pay attention to the instincts that may be indicating that something just isn’t right.

So if your instincts are picking up on the possibility that you might be receiving less than the full truth, don’t let it slide. Press into it and determine whether or not you really are receiving the truth you are seeking.

Because to be an effective leader, you must not only be a truth-teller.

You must be a truth-hearer as well.




the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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