JudgeGavelWhen testifying in court you take an oath, at least you used to. Per WikiLeaks, that oath begins with someone asking you something like this:

Do you solemnly (swear/affirm) that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, (so help you God/under pains and penalties of perjury)?

You can’t answer NO and continue to testify. You can only answer yes if you continue.

Now my experience regarding the truth is that there is only one form of truth. Any alteration of the facts or misrepresentation of the truth is…untrue. Purposefully altering or misleading means you are lying. Call it what you will, a white-lie, a grey-lie or a black-lie, it’s a lie and one who practices this behavior is a liar.

Let’s suppose someone says that they want you to be open, honest, transparent and truthful. Let’s say they tell you that what you say is confidential and private. The conversation is supposed to be one that helps all parties make something better and that the aforementioned confidence is assured.

Are we to believe that the statement of privacy and confidence holds the same weight as an oath?

If you believe the statement and agree to be open, honest, transparent and truthful then you continue the conversation. If you do not believe in the sincerity of the statement you keep quiet and the conversation is over.  However, if you keep quiet you are not participating in the betterment goal.

This is the situation I found myself in over a year ago. A company were I was employed, I’ll call them the ‘tiny firm’, hired a company who “specializes” in helping with merger and acquisition initiatives and optimizing growth strategies so that businesses can sell their company. We’ll call this company ‘the consultants’. All employees were told that the company was hired to help them grow. The truth was they were setting the business up for sale. The consultants began interviewing non-executive leaders within the tiny firm’s business, including me, and began each conversation with the same “be open, honest, it’s all confidential” statement. Post discussions with those interviewed revealed that each interview had went nearly identical with all parties saying the same things and bringing up the same issues regarding constraints on growth.

A few months later in a phone conversation with the tiny firm’s owner I was informed that the consultants had divulged confidential conversation and had recommended I be fired because I was “very negative”. My response – “So much for confidential”. A few months later, I was fired.

Now what does this tell us? What lesson did I learn and what lesson should you?

First: CHARACTER is the primary thing. You need to know the true character of leadership and identify flaws and weaknesses quickly. The ‘tiny firm’ had an even tinier executive leader. This instance wasn’t the only evidence. This leader was known by all for being needy, fearful and weak. What the situation uncovered was a deeper character trait of selfish dishonesty.  The dishonesty in this situation began with all executive leaders misleading the employees as to the nature of  the equally dishonest firm, ‘the consultants’, they had hired. While everyone said growth was the purpose the ‘tiny firm’ was indeed sold mid-year the following year and merged with another consulting business confirming and uncovering the lie. The dishonesty peaked when both ‘the consultants’ and the ‘tiny firm’ conspired to leverage what were supposed to be confidential conversations. This subversive use of confidential information was and is despicable and key to understanding the true character and nature of all parties involved.

The new parent company retained all of the dishonest and untrustworthy executive leaders.

Second: TRUST is extremely important in life and business. I trusted both the tiny firm’s leaders and the consultants to be honorable and trustworthy. I wanted to solve problems so I was open and honest. I let my feelings be known, I shared my heartfelt opinions and experiences as well as documented and shared solutions. What I learned was neither party were honest or trustworthy. Not yesterday, today or tomorrow. What is ironic is that the company that bought the tiny firm promotes TRUST as a strong virtue of their business.

Third: AUTHENTICITY is on of the greatest traits of great leaders. You must be the same person at all time, when in public, at the restaurant or the C-level decision maker you’re trying to sell to. How you treat everyone, especially those who can’t repay your kindness, is the best indicator of your true character.

None of the players in my true story exemplified a hint of authenticity. Every word and deed in my experience with them was shadowed by an underlying agenda that I was never to be a part of.

Lessons learned are often gained through difficulty, pain and loss. You hope that the future benefit outweighs the current cost. My family and many of the charitable projects that I once supported are still suffering significant loss and I will never forget the lessons learned or those who had such negative impact. Is it bitterness? Possibly. Is it hurtful? Yes.

I’ll share my TRUE STORY as often as I can because others need to learn the same lessons and I will forever be aware of who to avoid. I will assess everyone for authenticity and I will work to mitigate the cost for others whenever and wherever I can.

Bad experiences make excellent lessons to teach.




~ by Jeff Williams on August 22, 2017.

%d bloggers like this: