Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

distortion of truth unquintessential leaderA couple of things have happened in February 2015 that have really made it obvious how thoroughly entrenched unquintessential leaders are in our society and how few quintessential leaders actually exist.

These two things may look like they are completely unrelated on the surface, but in fact they both underline how extant hypocrisy, revisionist history, and distortion are within the very fabric of our society.

That, to date, no one has looked at the big picture and connected the dots in any of these things to show the trifecta of unquintessential leadership – hypocrisy, revisionist history, and distortion – is a testimony that quintessential leaders are almost nonexistent on this planet. (more…)

the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, and chapter 4 discusses fairness, chapter 5 discusses righting wrongs, chapter 6 discusses accountability, and chapter 7 discusses consistency.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 8, discusses the component of sincerity that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

We can make a good show of appearing to do all the right things and saying all the right words, but if we’re just faking everything then all our efforts amount to nothing.

“Why?,” you ask. “Wouldn’t that be enough?”

The answer is “no.” Because if we don’t believe what we are doing and what we are saying, then no one else is going to believe it – or us – either.

People can spot insincerity a mile away. It oozes out of us in tangible – facial expressions, eyes, gestures – and intangible – tone of voice, attitude, quality of effort – ways.

We can’t hide either sincerity or insincerity, no matter how hard we might try.

Unfortunately, the component of sincerity is almost non-existent among the people who are in leadership positions today. There is so much fake everything all around us and in us that when we do see sincerity, it almost renders us unconscious.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.


Excerpt from”Chapter 8: The Sincerity Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

A lack of sincerity has been painfully and increasingly evident in business, political, educational, civil, and religious leadership for quite some time, and it’s becoming the norm instead of the exception.

While sincerity is very closely aligned with honestychange link here to chapter 3 excerpt link: integrity, and authenticity, it is still a distinct component from these other quintessential leadership traits.

Sincerity, put simply, is the opposite of hypocrisy. But we need to define both of those words to see why.

Hypocrisy, in its simplest definition, is a person pretending to be, do, or believe something he or she isn’t, doesn’t do, or doesn’t believe. The Greek root of this word means “play-acting.” In other words, a hypocrite is faking it or perpetuating fraud.

Sincerity, on the other hand, defines a person who actually is, does, and believes everything he or she appears to be, does, and says he or she believes. In other words, a sincere person is “for real,” genuine, and free of pretense and deceit.

Sincerity, then, is a quintessential leader trait and another key component of building trust and being trustworthy.

What sets the component of sincerity apart from honesty, integrity, and authenticity, although, again it is closely related to all of these, is that it indicates a person’s motives or motivations.

This is another aspect of character – a heart issue. The other side of the coin, hypocrisy, also speaks to motives, motivations, and character.

Nowhere recently have we seen hypocrisy abound and sincerity questioned than in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left a wide and extensive swath of devastation when it merged with two other storms to form a super-storm over the northeast United States on October 29-30, 2012.

After reading extensive excerpts from the Senate Armed Services Committee’s confirmation hearing on January 31, 2013  considering retired Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel’s suitability as the next Secretary of Defense, I could not help but think of William Shakespeare, of Julius Caesar, of Brutus, of Marc Antony.

“So are they all, all honourable men” was the line from Marc Antony’s eulogy, which I memorized for oral recitation in 10th grade English class, that kept coming back to me. Because Marc Antony’s eulogy is facetious in its praise of the very men – and especially Brutus – he knows betrayed Julius Caesar and figuratively stabbed him in the back and literally stabbed him in the front.

I also thought of Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno and the nethermost layer of his hell, which was reserved for traitors. He assigns Brutus and Judas Iscariot to this layer, using this literary vehicle to show betrayal as the ultimate breach of trust. 

(It may interest you to know, by the way, that The Inferno, along with the rest of The Divine Comedy, is actually a political, not religious, book. This fictional work was Dante’s revenge against his political and personal enemies, but by using the cover of a religious treatise, he could condemn his enemies without fear of retaliation. However, the fictional, unscriptural concepts that Dante introduces in this work were later incorporated into the dogma of the church and became much of what both Protestant and Catholic adherents believe about the afterlife today – all of which is based on a work of complete fiction.)

Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense HearingsThe reality is that few of the people involved in this proceeding are honorable men – and very few of them show any quintessential leadership traits. The overriding hypocrisy, the back-stabbing, and posturing by most of those on the Senate Armed Services Committee are all unquintessential leadership traits.

A glaring example of this emerged over and over as different members of the Armed Services Committee referred to Chuck Hagel in their lead-in to their questions as “friend” or “old friend,” and then each of those same people proceeded to deal with Mr. Hagel in a manner that was, not only unfriendly, but downright hostile. With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

Arizona Senator John McCain was particularly notable in his hostility and outright bullying (please purchase Unquintessential Leadership for a thorough discussion of bullying and two other unquintessential leadership traits that are often closely related to it) during the hearing. This has been the trend of John McCain’s behavior and character since his unsuccessful 2008 U.S. presidential race. It seems that a bitterness and anger has set in with him that has made him the attacker, the accuser, the blamer, and the one who demands the final word and not only always has to be right, but has to hear, even if it requires brute force, everyone else admit he’s right.

McCain’s questioning of Chuck Hagel was a continuation of that behavior and character. Whatever strengths,John McCain Senate Armed Services Committee knowledge, experience, and respect that John McCain once brought to the table with his inclusion in Senate matters has been eclipsed – and perhaps lost, though, hopefully not for the long haul – by this unquintessential leadership behavior that now characterizes his interaction with almost everyone.

Of all the Senate Armed Services Committee members who questioned Chuck Hagel, the only one who based his questioning on actual things related to national defense that Chuck Hagel has discussed in the past in a measured, persistent-but-not-bullying way was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. The stark contrast between his interrogation of Mr. Hagel and John McCain’s was easily discernible in print, but even more discernible in the video excerpts.

John McCain’s body language, tone, and face are those of an unquintessential leader. Everything is combat and he must win at all time and his “enemy” must publicly surrender. Lindsey Graham’s body language, tone, and face showed none of those things. It was clear, though, that his line of questioning was directed toward a centerpiece of American defense policy, and its importance was why he stayed with it to try to elicit a policy response from Chuck Hagel.

lindsey graham Armed Services Committee SenateOn the other side of the table in the confirmation hearing, however, was another unquintessential leader. As a quintessential leader who interviews and hires people routinely, if Chuck Hagel had been a candidate I was interviewing for a job, after about five minutes, I would have ended the interview and would have asked my HR department to send out a form letter to Mr. Hagel saying “thanks, but no thanks.”

Mr. Hagel was completely unprepared for any of the questions he was asked. He lacked key information on policy matters directly related to the job of Secretary of Defense. He lacked, it seemed, informed and well-thought out policies on international matters and foreign relations. In short, he seemed not to even be aware of the rudimentary elements and matters related to the job he is being considered for. Most of his time was spent embroiled in defending or being decimated about his past, and the end result was the question, at least in my mind, of why anyone thought Mr. Hagel was even remotely qualified to be considered for the Secretary of Defense position.

Quintessential leaders are (a) qualified and (b) extremely prepared for their jobs. That is what we as quintessential leaders must be at all times. We will never know all the answers to all the questions, but as quintessential leaders, it’s our responsibility to be honest and say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll find out and get back to you,” and then get back with an answer as soon as possible. You won’t lose respect if you don’t know all the answers, but you will lose respect if you don’t know any of the answers.

Quintessential leaders are also not hypocritical and disingenuous. You will not hear a quintessential leader call someone a friend and then treat him or her like an enemy. Quintessential leaders do not bully, do not insist on always being right nor do they insist that everyone publicly admit he or she is right, do not blame, do not accuse, do not attack, do not exhibit any kind of hostility. Disagreement and hostility are not twins. People can disagree without hating each other. And people who hate each other can agree.

As quintessential leaders, we should always look at the wealth of examples of people in leadership positions that surrounds us every day and identify what is quintessential leadership and unquintessential leadership. Then we need to take what we find and measure ourselves against it, because knowledge doesn’t do us any good unless we apply it. And the only person you or I can change is ourselves. If you’re not growing and changing, you’re at best stagnating, but more likely, you’re going backward.

And that’s one direction, as quintessential leaders, we need to be vigilant about ensuring that we’re not going consistently. As long as you and I breathe for a living, there will be times when we take a step or two back. That’s life. But the difference between quintessential leaders and unquintessential leaders is that quintessential leaders know this, are continually watching for it, recognize it as soon as it starts happen, and take immediate action to stop and reverse it.

Where are you today? Going backward? Stationary (stagnant)? Going forward? 

What are you going to do about it?