“So, I am your enemy because I tell you the truth.” Galatians 4:16

This Bible verse is probably one of the most impactful verses. Unfortunately, I have found that telling the truth is a liability in nearly every aspect of my life. No matter how you deliver the truth, it has negative consequences. Lying in our daily interactions with people, in the military profession, in politics, in our religious institutions, the justice system, the educational system, and the media has become the norm and progressed from lying about small things to lying about big things. The advent of social media has created an exponentially negative impact on the promulgation of lies in our society.

I write this article with the most profound sense of humility and an understanding that I have only sometimes been truthful. I have said many times that I am an imperfect leader, and in my journey to be the best son, husband, father, grandfather, friend, person, and leader I can be, I made many mistakes.

Speaking the truth is hugely important. I understand that telling the truth comes with consequences. We are expected to speak the truth; unfortunately, lying has become more accepted in our society. People expect their leaders to be truthful with them and will default to believing them even when common sense tells them to do otherwise. People have a vast capacity for forgiveness, and those that lie know this and use it to their benefit.

I have spent the majority of my adult life in leadership positions serving at the highest levels of our military. It is essential for leaders to act and admit they are human. Leaders do not need to know everything. Leaders do not have to be the smartest person in the room. Leaders do not always have to be right. It is not a sign of weakness for a leader to change their mind. The most important things leaders must be are truthful, honest, and always maintain the highest character and integrity. Leaders must be held accountable for their actions, be responsible to others before themselves, and not do anything illegal or immoral. This is a high standard and must always remain a high standard. Certain professions demand honesty and truthfulness in words and deeds without compromise. Some are the military, elected officials, police, lawyers, judges, teachers, doctors, and religious leaders.

Subordinates should know who their leaders are. Stoic, aloof, and hotheaded leaders create organizations that feed off of perceptions, favoritism, and poor communication. This leads to considerable problems in organizations. When I talked with my subordinates, I emphasized the following things about myself and what I learned about accountability, responsibility, transparency, and truthfulness.

I am an imperfect leader, so humility and gratitude are essential. I will admit my mistakes, be accountable, take responsibility for my actions, be trustworthy, and be truthful in word deeds. I will give them credit for everything that goes right, and I will take responsibility for everything that goes wrong. I want them to take chances, be creative, and use their ingenuity. This is a win-win situation for them as long as they do their job and do not do anything illegal, immoral, or negligently unsafe.

I have made every leadership mistake in the book. That is why honesty and telling the truth is so important. A good leader requires a lifetime of training, education, and coaching. I expect you to make mistakes. I expect you to avoid making the same mistake twice. Making mistakes is part of growing; don’t fear failing. You will never fail if you never give up. Unfortunately, in our society, making mistakes, admitting you are wrong, and taking accountability for your actions have become unacceptable. This leads to lying, dishonesty, deceitfulness, lack of trust, and not taking responsibility for your actions.