Why Some Leaders Lie

liar-16Samuel Watson (not his real name) was smart, physically attractive, and athletic.  “Sam was very popular,” recalls a college friend.  “Intelligent and extremely capable,” said another.

A friend also said, “We could never be sure that Sam was telling the truth.”  Another said, “Bending truths, large and small, was just a way of life with Sam.”

After college, Sam joined a growing company and advanced quickly to a powerful leadership position.  But eventually, his division ran afoul of governmental regulations and he was fired at the age of forty-six.

A careful examination of Sam’s career unearthed mystifying behaviors.  Sam graduated from a prestigious university with a master’s degree, but he had falsely reported that he had a second master’s.

Sam occasionally misrepresented delivery schedules to customers.  He exaggerated claims, denied previous promises, and communicated incorrect data to staff and management.  When cornered, Sam relied on denials, personal persuasion and charisma to patch relationships.

A staff member said, “I really liked working for Sam.  He was kind, generous, charming and very talented.  I can’t understand why he had this puzzling prevaricating habit.”

Why do some leaders lie?  Researchers suggest that a few among us are genetically incapable of consistently telling the truth, i.e., they are congenital liars.

Accusations of falsehoods befuddle congenital liars because, in their minds, they remember things differently.  Beware of being bamboozled by consistently dishonest persons; they rarely change their behaviors.



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