4 Compelling Reasons To Avoid the Pitfall of Exaggeration

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As a leader you must project optimism. But when you cross the line into exaggeration or hyperbole, your leadership is facing significant risks.

A leader in my orbit once described a very average meeting we had been in as “Quite possibly our best meeting ever!”

The statement was so over-the-top, and so removed from any sense of reality, that he took a serious credibility hit.

How many of these statements, or statements like them, have you used?

  • “That was the best (event, class, earnings quarter, meeting) we’ve ever had!”

  • “This will be the best (board retreat, youth outreach, stockholders meeting) ever!”

  • “There is an unbelievable sense of momentum and excitement building in our (church, company, ministry, club)!”

If you find that these types of hyped-up, hyperbole-filled statements are creeping into your leadership communication, watch out. Your leadership could be taking hits that you’re not even aware of.

You can be seen as inauthentic

Let’s face it. Not every event can be the ‘best ever’. If you use this kind of language excessively people will start to see you less as a leader, and more as a ‘pitch-man’.

Remember, you need to cast vision, not sell a Sham-Wow.

You can lose credibility

You know that event you described as the ‘best ever’? Well guess what. Your people were there, and they know it wasn’t the best ever.

When your communication creates a gap between what your people know to be true, and what you claim to be true, you start to lose credibility.

Young people start to tune out

Young people today have their radar on ‘full alert’ for anything that smells like hyperbole, exaggeration or hype.

You can’t afford to alienate this group with you communication.

You create a culture of desperation

As a leader your words have a powerful ability to form and shape culture.

When your communication is flavored with constant hype you are creating a culture of desperation. For your followers it’s a short walk from desperation to suspicion.

Because of my own optimistic nature, I’ve learned that I need to be vigilant to ensure that hyperbole doesn’t creep into my own communication.

And I would urge you to be just as vigilant.

Because what you lose in ‘hype’ you’ll more than make up for in authenticity.

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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