In this episode, host John Laurito talks about a very dangerous behavior in your organization that, as a leader, you need to put a stop right away. If your team constantly agrees with you during meetings but fails to implement the processes based on what was discussed or is unable to provide results, then it’s time to stop and check. Is your team telling you the truth, or are they telling you a lie? Tune in to know why your team is lying, what would be the detrimental results, and what you should do to stop it.
[0:56] What today’s topic is all about?
[2:36] Why do people lie?
[3:44] Why is this a problem?
[5:31] The reason why people lie to their leaders
[6:36] When a member disagrees with a leader, how should a leader react?
[9:00] How to get people’s honest opinions? Hint: it has a lot to do with how you ask questions
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: Hi, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others, I am still John Laurito here today and tomorrow and every day thereafter, bringing to you great stories and ideas and thoughts around leadership, how to make your own life better and the lives of people around you. And today is no exception. I’ve got a couple of stories, some things that I want to share with you around a topic that I think is absolutely critical for leaders to be very, very conscious of in this episode, I think is going to be one that hopefully prompts you to do a little bit of an acid test as to whether or not your organization passes the test with regard to today’s topic.
John: And today’s topic has to do with honesty. It has to do with truly leading an honest organization. Now, I know what you’re saying. Most of you out there saying, well, of course, I do. I have an honest organization. I’m honest. The people that I work with and have been honest. But are they really? That’s my challenging question to you, are the people that work in your organization that work below your side to you, next to you, or whatnot, are they truly honest now? I don’t mean the malicious, vindictive, dishonest type of person. I mean the person that just is really not sharing with you their true thoughts and opinions.
John: And I see this as one of the kinds of cracks in the armor or fire in the wall of many, many organizations where they build their organizations and they lead their organizations in a way where they get a lot of people that are agreeing with the leader for no other reason other than that’s kind of been the unspoken expectation. So I want to talk a little bit about this. I want to talk about how you know that this is happening and why it happens. And then how do you undo it? How do you fix it? How do you change it? Now, I’ve been in organizations both as a leader, leader of organizations that I’ve led, and organizations that I’ve been a member of that have succeeded with this and not succeeded with this.
John: So I know what it feels like to lead and both be a part of both of those organizations. So I speak from personal experience and I’ll tell you exactly how to fix it. If this is a problem of yours. Let’s talk about the fact why do people lie? Why are people not honest? And the answer is not because they intend to do damage or they want to just purely be dishonest or they’re trying to evade something or get out of something. They did something wrong, not the case. The bottom line is, by human nature, we are programmed, most of us want to live in harmony and peace. We actually don’t want the typical human being to not thrive in conflict. I’m not saying that some people don’t. There are some very pugnacious, great word people out there that just enjoy conflict.
John: But for most people, they enjoy peace versus war, so to speak. So because of that, we’re just programmed to go in the path of least resistance. We do everything in our life. We do if we are in a mall, we see an escalator, we’re going to go on the escalator and so go up the stairs. We just tend to go through life choosing the easier path, whether we realize it or not. And it is no different when you are in corporate America or you’re in a small business or on a sports team or whatever the case may be. And here’s what I’m talking about.
John: First of all, why do people why is this a problem? Well, if I’m a leader of an organization and I’ve got ten people on my leadership team, the only way that I can truly reach top-level potential and really get the most and grow as significantly as I know we can is if I tap into the full potential of each of these people and if I’ve done a good job as a leader, I’ve assembled my team with people with all different types of experiences and who think differently, not necessarily thinking exactly the same. What I don’t want is an organization of everybody who looks at an issue the same exact way, with the same experience and background that they’ve developed their opinions and overall ways of leading. That’s not what I want. I want people from all different walks of life that have different perspectives so we can come to the best solutions together.
John: So if they’ve done that right, that’s the first step. Now it’s a matter of how do I get the most out of people? And part of that, a major part of that is I truly have to tap into their honest, true feelings and opinions about everything. If we’re going in a direction and the strategy is to go here, I can’t afford to have everybody just shaking their head or nodding their head, rather, in the meeting and saying, yeah, that makes sense when in reality they don’t feel that way. So the problem with that is I’m ultra. Really going to get a meeting that feels good, but after that meeting, the execution is just not going to happen.
John: And I’ve actually led organizations like that. I remember people that in meetings were nodding their heads and then they’d execute totally differently. Now, what I learned is that’s mostly my fault as the leader. And I’m going to tell you the reason why because what happens is why do people ultimately lie? Why do they not communicate their true feelings and opinions? If they disagree with me as a leader, why would they not tell me? Why would they not say, you know what? I don’t think that’s the right way to go about it. I think that’s too complicated. I don’t think people are going to implement or execute. I think that’s ultimately going to lead us away from our vision.
John: If somebody feels that way and I have this person on my payroll, there are vested interests, the individual in my organization. Why would I not want their true opinion? I do. Right. But do you as a leader, do you really are OK with getting conflicting opinions? Are you OK with healthy conflict? Are you OK with disagreement? Are you OK with nobody agreeing with your opinion? If you’re not well, then that’s a whole different issue. OK, if you are and you truly want that, you have to be committed to making sure the message is communicated the right way that people understand. That’s OK. And here’s what I’m talking about. I was talking to a leader who I’ve worked with before who is a terrific, excellent leader. She runs a great organization. And one of the things she was telling me was about an individual in her organization that was challenging her about a specific thing that she was doing from a leadership perspective.
John: She said, you know, you need to take this task and put it in somebody else’s hands. It’s your responsibility right now. But this should really be owned by somebody else. Well, my friend shared with me and said, you know, I just really leaned into her and said, hey, you know, that’s not the case. I’m the best person to do it. And why would I give this to somebody else? And, you know, then why? And it went on and on. And it was a really negative interaction. And what it made me realize and what I shared with this individual, I said, OK, do you want ultimately people when they see opportunities and things that maybe you don’t see like this, which is where she disagreed with her leaders’ decision about who was running a certain program, do you want that input or do you not? She said, well, of course, I do.
John: I said, OK, well, your interaction communicated that you did not, because she went on to talk about how she really kind of laid into her and even went as far as to say, you know, I just I’m just frustrated and I just don’t know. We just don’t see eye to eye. Well, you know, what you’re doing is you’re sending a message to her and to the rest of the organization that says, you know what, I don’t want people that don’t agree with me. I just want people who agree with me. So what’s the likelihood when that story gets around that they’re going to be people are going to feel comfortable disagreeing with you and saying, hey, you know what? No, I think we should do this differently.
John: So pay attention to the messages you’re sending as a leader. They could be messages that say, hey, you know what? No, I want everybody to only agree with me. I don’t want people who have different opinions. And if that’s the organization you’re trying to build, great. Just realize you’re not going to go as far as you ultimately want to go. Most likely you’re going to be capped at a certain point because in your brain you’re just not going to cover enough ground from a mentality and intellectual and creative perspective. So what do you do about it? I mean, how do you get people’s honesty? How do you get their purely true thoughts and feelings and opinions to come out? Well, a lot of it has to do with the questions that we ask.
John: So it’s interesting. They did a study where they had participants in this study selling used electronics equipment and the people they were selling to were actually part of the experiment. So they were the researchers and these participants that were the salespeople were told one thing that was important about this product, among others. But the one thing was that it had not long ago, again, this was a used piece of electronic equipment. Maybe it was like an iPod or something like that. And it had frozen at one point recently. And all these songs and the music that were loaded onto it had vanished. So that’s a pretty major flaw. Right. So that would be something a buyer would certainly want to know because that would certainly dissuade them from buying it.
John: And it was interesting because the researchers who were positioned as the buyers asked one group one. Another group, another question, found the differences in answers were pretty staggering, the one group they asked, they said the question was phrased as, this doesn’t have any problems, does it? And the answer from 89% of the people. Let me just take a look at my stats here. I’m sorry. 61% of the people said, no, it does not. 61% of the people when the question was phrased, it doesn’t have any problems, does it? 61% of the people said no.
John: Now, think about that question there. It doesn’t have any problems, does it? Correct. Right. And 61% of the people, even though they knew that it did, said no. On the other hand, the other group was asked the question, what problems does it have? Again, what problems does this device have? And 89 percent of the people in that group responded, well, it has one and they were honest about it. The staggering difference in results. And think about this. That’s not necessarily you. One sample group was dishonest, one group was honest. It has a lot to do with the way the question was phrased.
John: So my advice to you is to think about when you’re asking questions, how you ask it can ultimately impact the answer. There are some questions that are leading, questions that are assumptive questions. When did I ask a question that says what problems does it have? The recipient of that question is assuming that I have a certain level of information, I have a level of information that I know has some problems. So I’m not asking does it have problems asking what problems does it have? I’m more inclined to get the true answer when I ask a question. It doesn’t have any problems, does it? That’s just leading them in the direction of having to disagree with me, almost to say, yes, it does when I say it doesn’t have any problems, does it?
John: And you have to stop me and correct me. No, it actually does have a problem. People are just less likely to answer it that way. So think about this. The questions that you want to be asking, the questions you don’t want to be asking. And let’s start with that. Are the Y questions OK? Why prompt people to become defensive? So if I’m a leader and I ask why is this happening, blah, blah, blah, even though it might be just out of curiosity, I’m trying to arrive at a problem and figure this out. It’s putting somebody on the defensive and it might not elicit the right response that I’m looking for, which is the true response.
John: Another question that ultimately is not going to get the desired result is how oftentimes and you might think that’s a good question, ask, OK, how can we fix this? How do we go from point A to point B? How do we get this delivered to the client as quickly as possible? It’s rushing to the solution too fast. It’s getting to solution mode much too quickly. OK, think about the question instead of what’s starting a question with what ultimately is going to get into better answers, it’s going to get better thinking going, more creativity. So I’ll give you an example.
John: If I said to somebody and I was trying to solve this problem that you’re hearing on the podcast about honesty, and I said to my team, hey, team, or I said to individuals, you’re giving me your honest opinion, correct. When I’m asking you a question. And, hey, what do you think about this idea? You’re giving me your true honest opinion. Right? OK, that’s exactly the point I was making prior to the research in the trial that they did. Right. So I’m leading them to say, yes, OK, they have to disagree with me right in that question to tell me, no, we’re not always giving you the right answer. We’re not always being honest with you.
John: Instead, if I phrase it differently and I say, let me ask you a question, what am I doing that might cause you to hold back your true feelings and not give me your true opinion about things, what am I doing that might cause you on occasion or all the time to not give me your
true opinions right away? You’re acknowledging there’s a problem. I’m not asking you. Is there a problem? I’m not asking you, am I doing something? I’m asking you what am I doing
that may at times not allow you to give me the right answer or the true answer? You’re going to get a much better accurate answer to that question.
John: I hope that makes sense. I hope this episode may strike a chord with you because this is a dangerous thing. Yes, it feels good when you’ve got an organization where everybody agrees with you. Believe me, I’ve been there. But it doesn’t feel good when you watch the lack of results. It doesn’t feel good. When you see results start to slip or you just ultimately see your you stagnate and it doesn’t feel good when you ultimately see top people leave, because guess what? Top people don’t want to be in an organization where they feel like they’ve just got to give the answer that the leader wants to hear.
John: They want to truly be tapped into for their expertise and their opinion. If they don’t feel that they can give it or they don’t feel that it’s truly valued as the example I gave earlier, then they’re not going to stick around. They are going to go somewhere else. And then you’re scratching your head and say, why did I lose that top person? That’s how you lose top people. So, again, I hope this episode gave you a little bit to think about. Feel free, reach out directly to me. I’ve got lots of examples. I can help you work through a problem like this. Believe me, I’ve dealt with it 100 times. It’s not an uncommon problem for organizations to have.
John: So with that said, as always, appreciate your suggestions on future topics and guests like a great guest coming up for you. If you have not already picked up my book, it is Tomorrow’s Leader. How the best leaders get better in a fast-changing world that is on pre-order for a hard copy coming out in about a month. You can go on Amazon today and download the ebook. And as always, like, subscribe. Sure. You know what to do there. Go down below, give a five-star review, appreciate all your help and support. And we will see you next time. Take care. Bye.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!