Leadership That Lies

Two companies that have gotten a lot of airplay recently (and not in good ways) are Mitsubishi Motors and Theranos, both riddled with scandal and maleficence.

The latter has fallen under criminal investigation while the former has at least admitted to its wrongdoing. Terrible times are ahead for both of these companies and there’s no guarantee for anything at this point in time.

These two companies are fascinating in both how they are handling the PR nightmare and how they are spinning facts in and out of fiction (and back again).

To be clear, I’m so far removed from both of these organizations that I do not have any additional information other than what I read (and I don’t have any position or investments in either), but I’m fascinated and interested in these two companies because I have lived long enough to know that the decisions to be deceitful were most likely made many, many years ago.

Perhaps as far back as the founding of the company. This is pertinent to me because I’m still very much in that precious and formative stage of building my own new venture and there are decisions that I’m facing today that will have permanent and lasting effects on me, the staff, and the products that we eventually bring to market.

So, after dinner and after the kids were in bed I found myself chatting through all of these things with my most important partner on the planet – my wife, and shared with her the on-going narratives that both Mitsubishi and Theranos are building (or have built).

The one thought and exchange with her last night that was the most poignant for me was fact that, eventually, all things would be revealed, the good and the bad.

In other words, there are no eternal secrets, nothing that anyone can really take to the grave with them, especially in business.

Leaders without integrity, who continue to build their infrastructure on the basis of deceit, will eventually be found out and there will be a cost to the discovery (and it will not be pleasant).

Images via BOSSFIGHT

Images via BOSSFIGHT

If this is true, then, why do leaders choose the path that will eventually destroy? We have seen this pattern of behavior and decision making time and time and time again.

It was just a month ago when I wrote a post about Zenefits and their absolute disintegration at very top of the flagpole. The cultural debt, the debt that leadership accrues based on integrity (or lack thereof) is real, is frightening in how real it is.

These companies serve as reminders to everyone in leadership that building a company upon these decisions is folly and if there is anything that needs to be declared today then you should do it now, not later, and certainly not when you have some modicum of control or say in the matter.

At the very least, you have a better opportunity for recovery, for healing and for restoration to occur. Start today, not tomorrow.