What’s Your Leadership Truthiness Quotient?

Jim Taggart's picture

I may be into leadership and the effects of globalization on people and organizations, but I also have a keen sense of humor. One of my favorite shows is Stephen Colbert, whose stinging political satire is a joy to watch in a world full of talking heads and shrinking intelligence.

When Colbert started his program in October 2005 (spinning off from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show which he joined in 1997), he coined the word “Truthiness,” the core of his popular “The Word” segment. Colbert’s take on his invented word was that “…truth that comes from the gut, not books.”

Okay, I can relate to that. While reading and meta-thinking one Saturday night I thought, what about “Truthiness” when it comes to leadership? I then formed what I’ll call a Truthiness Quotient– HITS, which comprises the four essential elements. These come from the gut, our inner being–not from books.

1) Humbleness:

You have a good grasp that your knowledge base, while perhaps impressive to others, is but a mere speck of sand in a mammoth and growing world body of knowledge. What you don’t know you don’t know vastly exceeds what you actually know. Think about that for a moment.

2) Integrity:

When you open your mouth and make a statement of whatever sort, you mean what you say and say what you mean. In short, are your words and actions congruent?

Sounds easy?

Give it try and ask one of your followers or peers to keep careful track.

Can your family, friends and co-workers take to the bank what you promise? Are you what the late Stephen Covey called a “promise keeper?”

3) Transparency:

How open are you? Are there two “yous,” one side that you present to others while keeping the other one for other purposes?

When you make decisions, do you share all the information you possess with your co-workers and staff? Or do you manipulate and hold information in order to achieve your non-transparent objectives?


4) Sacrifice:

If you mean what you say and say what you mean, then you have no problem taking the hit for the team when necessary, especially if you’re the official leader. In the military, especially special ops groups such as the Navy Seals, team leaders are the first to go in the door during a firefight. They don’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves when necessary. The last thing they do is expect a team member to lay down his life while the leader stays in the background.

Where are you when the going gets tough and dirty? Are you at the front of the line, ready to take the first hit?

I’m not going to come up with some form of contrived scoreboard on which you can determine a point system and where you stand in relation to HITS.

We’re all adults. My aim is to encourage your personal inquiry and reflection as part of your leadership journey.

If you’re living your Truthiness Quotient to the fullest (something YOU have to figure out), then you’re practicing a form of servant leadership. This is where you have created a loyal followership. However, there are times when you know that you must follow one of your followers because of the circumstances.

The only test of leadership is that somebody follows.

– Robert K. Greenleaf

Photo by S.Butler (Saints Rest Beach, Saint John New Brunswick, Canada)