Talking straight

lincoln“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” – Abraham Lincoln

In her blog last Friday, DeeAnne wrote about the importance of following through on your commitments to demonstrate integrity. Equally important to integrity is the act of just talking straight as leaders. In order to inspire trust from followers, leaders need to not only tell the truth, but leave the right impression.

With Super Tuesday approaching tomorrow, it seems we are in the thick of things with presidential candidates who are not talking straight. These leaders posture and position, some seem to withhold information or use double-talk, and most of them spin their communications to manipulate the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others in search of votes. After listening to sound bite after sound bite in the news, I’m left in a quandary with who to trust and who to put my support behind.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey talks about the importance of talking straight. He describes talking straight as, “…honesty in action….based on the principles of integrity and straightforwardness.” Covey points to Warren Buffett as a prime example of someone who communicates things in a straightforward, honest way, without any spin. Every year, Buffett writes a management letter for his company’s annual report. In it, he doesn’t do what most organizations do.  He doesn’t try to put things in the most positive light or spin the story, so that people think better of him. He talks straight and reports honestly. Here are a few examples of what Warren Buffett has written in the past:

  • I’ve made this kind of deal a few times myself–and, on balance, my actions have cost you money.
  • I didn’t do that job very well last year. My hope was to make several multibillion acquisitions that would add new and significant streams of earnings to the many we already have. But I struck out.
  • Rather than address the situation head-on, however, I wasted several years while we attempted to sell the operation….Fault me for dithering.

Wow! Now that’s integrity. Buffett just lays it bare. And communicates honestly.

As a leader, what can you do to make sure that you are talking straight?

Anita Rios



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