You can’t handle the truth: The CEO Disease

imprrh@gmail.com —  September 19, 2015

Edwin Gabriel Vargas

Here are two questions I’ve been meditating on the last couple of months:

How do some leaders stay fresh and relevant, while others live at the cutting edge of mediocrity?

Who will tell me truths I need to hear?

We all have blind spots. One of the attributes of a good leader is that he/she has someone in his life who is willing to:

Tell the truth

Stand by you and help you grow.

Public success does not always mean pure intentions. Lies may get you to the top faster, but only the pure unadulterated truth will take you AND keep you there.

We need people that have our best intentions in mind to keep us honest in our professional journey. If you don’t, you will suffer from three things:

*You will coast instead of soar.

*You will repeat mistakes instead of improve.

*You will grow irrelevant instead of impactful.

Here are three principles:

  1. Understand the difference between harmful critic and helpful truth-teller

Both tell you something you may not want to hear, a hard uncomfortable truth. The difference is between them is that the harmful critic throws a stone at you and stands back. The helpful truth teller will throw a stone at the problem and stays until the issue improves, however long it takes. We need to be able to distinguish between the two.

  1. The more successful you become, the less truth tellers you will have.

This is called the CEO disease. People around you will hesitate to confront you, especially if there are outward signs of success. Here is an article that explains the term CEO disease: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/1991-03-31/ceo-disease Since loving truth tellers are few and far between, you must be intentional in creating a culture that values truth telling.

  1. How to get a friendly truth teller on your team.

Create that culture through words, print and practice. We don’t want to be toxic, but we do want to be truthful.

Pray for discernment.

Seek them out.

Give them permission.

My wife and I have a practice in our home. We sit our kids down once in a while and ask them to tell us where we are coming up short as parents. Instead of making us weaker, it has improved our parenting and taught them a valuable lesson: transparency in the atmosphere of acceptance always leads to growth.

So, who tells you the truth, lovingly?

imprrh@gmail.com

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