How Little White Lies Can Ruin How You Are Perceived As A Leader

Silvia Damiano
2 min read

The little white lie. Doesn’t everyone tell one, at least occasionally? Yes, this is the best apple pie in the world, or yes, that dress is very flattering. Is it really so bad to let a fib slip to avoid hurting people’s feelings? 

Telling Little Lies Can Snowball Into Something Bigger 

To be a tactful adult, you sometimes have to sidestep a question or even give an outright lie. But when you are in a leadership role, can these untruths end up hurting your credibility? It’s important to tell the truth, but you can be polite and caring, and not cold and harsh. 

If your grandmother or great-aunt claims that she does indeed make the world’s best apple pie, it probably IS best to agree. Unless you prefer fixing your own holiday meals! But what if a situation comes up in a meeting, and perhaps someone didn’t do the best job possible? Is it OK to brush it under the rug, or should you be truthful?

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands   speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.

Mahatma Gandhi

This doesn’t mean that you should crush other people’s feelings. And there is a difference between praising a pie and discussing work performance. Increasing your awareness can help you see the fine line between a white lie to your grandma and a lie that could impact someone’s career.

Your employees will be happier and more engaged if they respect you and the decisions you make. You, as a leader in this new Imagination Age, must have a level of agility that was unheard of in the past. New technologies, an increased understanding of neuroscience, and the ever-changing world economy require new methods and leadership styles.

As A Leader, It’s Best To Tell The Truth

Increasing your awareness is critical if you want to be an agile leader. Being aware also involves understanding how your brain works, and how to optimise the capacity of your prefrontal cortex, where your rational decision-making lies. You can learn how to give honest, constructive feedback to the members of your team.

Leadership begins with awareness and an ongoing discovery of who you are, what you stand for, and what you will fight for. The i4 Neuroleader Assessment Tool gives you the opportunity to see yourself, and how others see you. Little decisions, like telling the truth to people around you in a kind and caring manner, will snowball and have a significant, positive impact on your life. 

If your best friend asks if she looks fat in a dress, what do you do? Do you tell a coworker they have spinach in their teeth? Honesty is the best policy, but you can be tactful and compassionate. These rules of common decency also apply in your professional life. As a leader, people need to know that your word can be trusted and that your actions will be agile and ready to handle the issues of today.

Originally posted on: 8 March 2018
Last updated on: 25 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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