10 February 2012

Honesty and lies

Either you are honest or you prepare your message (lies?) very carefully. Of course, you're better off not lying: lies are always found out and the truth is just easier to remember (it's right out there in front of you). There are many reasons for which we lie. In fact, we all lie. But what becomes of our credibility when people know we are capable of lying? What do you think your friends think of you when they hear you lie to someone on the phone? What do you think customers think of the ethics of a company when it is blatantly modifying the truth?

Of course, CEOs have a difficult time: how can they be transparent when they are under pressure from governments? How can they both respect their company obligations and keep the confidence of users that they won't hand over personal data? These are no easy questions to answer, and that's why PR teams are important to figure out the right words to use without lying. But there is no excuse in not coming prepared to an interview. And saying that something is "not fair" doesn't really demonstrate one's ability to react as a leader, let alone as an adult, if I want to be harsh.

Mike Lazaridis is the founder and former CEO of the company which creates BlackBerries. For the sake of the example (and not attacking him personally) watch how:

  • he is uneasy: shaking his head, immediately rejecting the question;
  • he is arrogant: if his company is singled out, it's because it is "so successful";
  • his body language betrays him: looking down and not in the eyes of the journalist or directly into the camera;
  • his anger and his contradiction at the end ruin his credibility: he insists there's not issue during one whole minute, before admitting it's a "national security... issue". Ouch.