JS Tip 440: Leaders and Honesty

From the Leadership Workshops: Leaders and Honesty Leaders are honest.


Leaders search for, speak, and defend the truth. The real. The honest.

(Notice we’re using the simple term “leaders” here; the dishonest in power aren’t “leaders.”)

Two examples:

Cynthia Cooper

In 2002, Cooper, a vice president at WorldCom and head of internal auditing, heard rumors of false financial reporting. She organized a team and investigated. The team worked at night for security concerns. They copied documents in case the originals disappeared.

They found billions of dollars in false reporting. Cooper reported the findings to the WorldCom audit committee and the controller. The scandal became one of the largest frauds in corporate history. Those in power went to prison.

Time Magazine named her as one of three “Persons of the Year.” Cooper countered, “I’m not a hero. I’m just doing my job.”

Eric Shinseki

In 2003, weeks before the Iraq invasion, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be required to keep the peace in postwar Iraq.

The figure was orders-of-magnitude higher than in the invasion plan. The administration claimed that Shinseki’s estimate was “wildly off the mark” and announced his replacement.

In 2006, CENTCOM commander General John Abizaid testified to Congress that Shinseki had been correct. By that time, Shinseki was long gone.

Leaders are honest.

Next week, another topic. We love this stuff.


Mark Brooks