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Leadership: Deception / Candour

Recently, I read an article online about how leaders can effectively use deception to get employees to succeed, on how sometimes telling a lie that they are very good can be an effective strategy to elicit good performance from them. A friend and me got to discussing this and he happened to say, “Even armies are coached to deceive their enemies so what is wrong to use it if I can get things done?”

This got me thinking… and here are a few thoughts on that theme…
Staying in the context of  leaders in an organization being deceptive to employees or managers being deceptive to their team members for better performance, and not venturing into aspects of getting one’s way or having a subterfuge personal agenda or war etc. ..  purely keeping this application in mind:

I believe that the word deception can be replaced with either motivation or perception. Instead of really intending to mean deception, one can look at it as choosing to positively motivate by looking at what can be rather than feel pulled down by what cannot be n in helping people see the plus side.

Deception therefore, can be construed as misleading, as overall the point seems to be as an essence – if you can make people believe they can do well, then they will! – and that what we believe is what we achieve – now this, we have been agreeing from eons..

Deception as a strategy, does not help long term in forming allies… or bonding relationships. It helps when you are on opposite sides or it helps when it is a one timer. Otherwise integrity always is the more successful long term option especially when it is leadership.

For example, for a while, going in line with the article, a fantastic example (I do not know of the truth of this example, just that it is quoted in many a places so using it here) of using deception positively: there is this very popular story of how Napoleon got his very disheartened n defeated soldiers to fight back by tossing a coin and saying that if it falls heads then they are destined to win n if tails then to lose – saying which he tossed the coin, it came up heads and the soldiers, motivated beyond themselves, fight and win! Later when his commander calls it luck that the coin flipped heads, Napoleon is said to have smiled and showed him that it was a double headed coin, there was no chance for a tails at all.

Now correlate this powerful example to today’s organizations. Four major differences

1. today’ organizations are flat in hierarchy and nowhere like an army; today’ leaders cannot get away with making such an independent decision

2. the possibility of information staying outside of a grapevine is less likely, thus the probability of more pepole getting to know about the double headed coin is high

3. anyone can walk up and demand information (unless it is strictly confidential) or ask questions to even the leader, thus having the leader to sometimes even answer for and validate his/her strategies sometimes

All the above 3 ways where today’s organizations work differently from the situatuon that Napoleon faced.

Now this deception still would work one time and maybe a second time but what would happen if by chance someone realized that it really wasn’t the truth, that it was deception? That may break the bonds of trust and demotivate even further, leading to disastrous results.  Better way is to go the Kung fu Panda way – that the secret ingredient is yourself – and create and nurture that belief in people that they can achieve a lot more if only they believed to be able to do so.

I mentioned 4 differences in Napoleon’ and current organization’ situation. The 4th is that there it was a crisis and he said what need to be said. One may argue, today also that, maybe in crisis, leaders  can choose to create that deception. Maybe true that sometimes in crisis, leaders have to withhold information and make that choice. But one thing that leaders today can do that Napoleon couldn’t/wouldn’t is that post facto crisis they can sit the team down, tell the facts, and explain to them why it was essential to do what they did and how the strategy to make them believe worked for the best thus causing them to increase their belief in themselves…

All in all, it is the bonds of trust, the transperancy on communication and the positive integrity of the leader that ultimately works long term, both in organizations as well as in relationships.

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June 4, 2016 - Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, Training and Learning, Uncategorized |

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