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Do leaders have an obligation to be honest when they morally screw up?

Honesty Integrity is in short supply these days among big company and government leaders (big surprise isn’t it?) In fact it’s an issue with “larger than life” sports figures as well (I am full of surprises this morning). Tiger Wood’s recent debacle got me thinking, when leaders morally screw up do they have an obligation to be honest? Now, I don’t want to debate whether Tiger Wood’s is a leader or not because I think he was (wink, wink with an emphasis on was). However, why does it seem that honesty is the best policy only when people get caught? I have heard celebrities, caddies, fans and others say “everyone makes mistakes.” Or Tiger is taking accountability for his actions. I have seen a few big corporate sponsors take action. But I wonder why the symphony of sympathy is always played in defense of others when they get caught? Wasn’t this more than a onetime mistake? And I wonder if sponsors would have been so quick to pull back if these indiscretions were not widely known; of course not.

Okay, time to get on my high horse a little – heehaw. I am tired of “leaders” taking the easy path to forgiveness (and I am talking about corporate as well as government leaders). If you lack integrity, you no longer have the right to lead – period. Be honest or else give up the reigns (remember I am on my high horse) to lead. If you lack integrity you have already eroded trust and the ability to inspire people (unless your morally deplete yourself). So the question is, do leaders have an obligation to be honest when they morally screw up? Of course they do. But they have a much bigger obligation to be honest before the screw up! It’s called integrity.

Mike Rogers

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