“Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
-Spencer Johnson, Author of Yes or No: The Guide to Better Decisions
We’ve all heard that “honesty is the best policy”, but opinions can differ on when and where that honesty is truly valuable. Everything from a desire to not hurt feelings, keep the peace, or simply follow tradition can keep us from using this powerhouse strength as much as we need. While honesty needs to be paired with tact, this strength can build employee’s confidence in leadership, increase loyalty, and help all parties determine whether they are good fits.
In a 2009 study, honesty was one of five strengths determined to have a “high match” with work demands along with zest, judgement, perspective, and fairness. Creating an environment of honesty also encourages accountability and responsibility. In Michelle McQuaid’s book, Can You Put Your Strengths To Work, honesty is described as your ability to be authentic when presenting to both yourself and others, leading you to act and speak in ways that reflect what you really think and feel.
Need some inspiration? Check out these stories of honesty!
- Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, slashed his salary to raise his 120-employees’ pay to a minimum of $50K a year to stay “authentically responsible” during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis, penned an essay on the moral obligation of honesty in the face of injustice that was printed by the NYT after his death.
DID YOU KNOW…
According to Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, people first associated “brutal honesty” or “tough love” with the framework of Caring Personally, Challenging Directly? However, Radical Candor (or honesty in the workplace) is not permission to be a jerk or “mean” to others. It is caring enough to be direct with them.
PUT IT IN PRACTICE
- Clear The Pipes. Use the remaining minutes at the end of a staff or team meeting to give people the opportunity to voice any frustrations or lingering hesitations about decisions. When this is done consistently and effectively, it stops small hiccups from festering and potentially becoming major issues down the line.
- Communicate the Positives and Negatives. Often, we can think of blunt honesty as a tool solely for communicating negative or “bad” feedback. Flip the script. Use honesty in communicating when things went well as well as acknowledging the negative.