Not long ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine. We were talking about various people we knew in common when my friend asked pointedly, “Do you know so-and-so?” The person he mentioned was not a friend of mine, but was someone with whom I was vaguely familiar.
“Yeah, I know who you’re talking about,” I confirmed. “But I can’t say that I know him well.”
“Well, if you knew him like I know him, you’d know that he tells the truth just often enough to keep everyone confused.”
The line was delivered with a dry, matter-of-fact tone that I initially found to be rather humorous. I remember thinking, what an interesting turn of a phrase—“just often enough to keep everyone confused.”
But then, as the humor passed, I began thinking about the serious impact his words had. Leaders should never be known for causing confusion. My friend had felt compelled to provide an unsolicited warning—albeit one housed in a sheath of humor—concerning another person’s questionable relationship with the truth (to put it generously). When anyone—but especially those of us in leadership positions—somehow earns a reputation for playing loose with the truth, others inevitably will hear about it. As a result, our leadership positions, reputations, and effectiveness are sure to suffer. Believe me. I know.