How Do Leaders Model Honesty?

In today’s turbulent workplaces, probably the most important characteristic for a leader to possess is honesty. If we cannot show others that we are trustworthy in both our words and actions, we will not have followers. So how do we show honesty?

First think back to a time that you felt a boss or co-worker or friend was being disingenuous. What did they do to make you feel this way? Did they tell you to do something that you felt was unethical or down right wrong? Did they ask you to behave in a way that was uncomfortable and didn’t reflect your true choice of action? Were they not truthful in describing an entire vision or goal so that you were only aware of a small piece, not the entire picture? When we are put in a position by others to pursue actions that do not reflect our values, we tend to disassociate ourselves from that individual. That is the beginning of a leader losing followers.

Now let’s shift gears and think of our honest, trustworthy connections. What was different? Here are a few insights that I have found denote honesty:

  • We feel respected for our contributions and are given credit openly.
  • We have a complete understanding of our company’s vision and values because they have been clearly presented.
  • We are not afraid to ask questions or voice concerns because we have trusting and supportive relationships with our team.
  • There is a culture of transparency so the lines of communication are always open.
  • Both leaders and team members are able to offer constructive feedback in order to improve end results.

These are only a few of the situations I have experienced over the years when working with different organizations.  What other behaviors or attitudes have you encountered that made you feel you were working in a trusting and honest environment?  A successful leader needs to be trusted by their followers in order to run a high performing team.

6 thoughts on “How Do Leaders Model Honesty?

  1. Hi Terri,

    The most powerful thing a leader can do is lead by example. The insights you provided can lead to honest and productive relationships. I would also add accountability to the list as a key component to building trust.


  2. Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your insights into modeling leadership. I also agree with you that accountability is critical and is not emphasized enough.


  3. terri,

    To set an example of integrity means to demonstrate the highest values of unfailing devotion to moral and ethical conduct. It is never a given. Many times it takes an enormous effort to gain trust. Conversely, it can take one time compromising values to wipe out any and all integrity.

    The past decade was rife with leaders who blew any integrity. As leaders we must be take responsibility for our actions and decisions. When we make a wrong decision, we must own up and revise it, lest we blow our credibility.


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