Honesty: why is this a refreshing change?

Posted March 4, 2013 in Latest News & Insights

Last week, former CEO of Groupon Andrew Mason wrote this exit message to employees: “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention.” The message caused a stir for its brutal honesty and made me wonder: what type of world and workplaces are we creating where honesty makes headlines??

It seems that bullsh*t has become the norm. It feels like every other headline is about somebody fabricating something. Whether it’s a high profile public education professional plagiarizing articles, or leaders lying about their credentials, or famous sports stars lying about doping, down to average individuals inflating their resumes, it seems like we’re all suffering from massive amounts of insecurity. We’re becoming an entire culture of “I’m not good enough!”

It’s hard to know what’s the truth and what’s a lie anymore. Recently, a friend of mine’s 8 year old daughter was featured in Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” as a model for their “self-esteem” building campaign. Perhaps to better match the colours on their shampoo bottles, Dove marketers photo shopped the little girls hair from brown to red. Of course, Dove has been accused of misrepresentation in the past, but they don’t seem to care.  Guess it’s not a campaign for “real beauty” after all. #integrityfail.

With so much blatant lying all around us, it’s easy to see how it starts to become a social norm. “Well, everyone does it, so it’s o.k. for me to do it.” Or, to be driven by fear “If I don’t lie, then I’m never going to be as popular/rich/well respected/successful as everyone else.” What would happen if we all started to tell the truth? Maybe the outcome wouldn’t be as bad as we all think.

Andrew Mason had the courage to be brutally honest and not hide behind some kind of PR spin when he was let go. We should all take a page from his book in that regard.

Happy leading!

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