A Little White Lie–A Big Black Mark

Last week news about Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson rocked the tech world. Just a few months ago Yahoo, a struggling tech giant, gave the reins of their world-wide operation to Thompson, who had a long track record of success. However, last week one of the key investors in the company uncovered an “inadvertent error” on Thompson’s resume. Apparently Thompson has reported for years that he earned a computer science degree from Stonehill College near Boston, when in reality he had earned no such degree.

Without doubt Yahoo did not hired Thompson because of his studies as an undergraduate. They sought out his expertise as a leader, manager, and business innovator. Yet his position in the company hangs in the balance because of a “little white lie.” He did graduate from Stonehill, but with an accounting degree not a degree in computer science.

Sadly Thompson is not alone in his creative resume writing. According to HireRight.com an estimated 34% of the clients falsified their resumes. Yahoo Hot Jobs revealed that according to a questionnaire of their participants 41% admitting lying on resumes. In these difficult economic times sadly many people have stooped to deception as the path to success.

In 2006, First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach had to force their pastor out due to lies and deceptions on his resume uncovered by the local newspaper. The investigation by the newspaper reveals not only lies about his background and education but criminal type abusing of church credit cards and bank accounts at previous assignments.

In the world of leadership and influence trust and integrity stand out as essential qualities. Solomon, who knew all too well the pressures of leadership wrote:

Kings take pleasure in honest lips;  they value the one who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16.13 NIV)

In 2011,  Forbes magazine ran piece by Merrill Matthews on the lessons learned from the fall of John Edwards. Like the crumbling of an evil empire, Edwards imploded. He was his own worst enemy. One of the lessons Matthews pointed out struck home with me in a big way. Matthew’s wrote: “Politicians need honest employees and friends.” He went on to explain:

“The powerful need honest people around them—staff and friends—who are willing to say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Like the classic story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson, we all need people in our lives who will tell us the truth like the boy who informed the King he had no clothes on. Could it be that one of the first steps needed to rebuild our nation and its character will be simply “telling the truth.”

The next time you are tempted to tell a little white lie–stop yourself–count the cost–tell the truth.  The truth has a way of paying off in the end.

 

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Filed under Devotion, Leadership

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