Facts are not in the eye of the beholder. Accountability and truth go together.
Recently, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, in defending the White House’s current legal strategy during a live interview, made an extraordinary assertion: “Truth isn’t truth.” His point, if you can call it that, was that there are always multiple possible explanations for any event, and that when two different accounts of an event exist, there is literally no way for anyone to determine what actually happened.
This argument stopped me cold, and I hope it stopped you cold, too.
I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care what you think about the man in the White House. I don’t care whether you think presidents should be interviewed under oath or you think they shouldn’t. Facts are not in the eye of the beholder.
The minute we start pretending they are, or staying silent while someone else does, we are in deep trouble.
So let’s be very clear on this point: The truth does exist.
Things either happen or they don’t. We either did something or we didn’t. Someone’s explanation for his own behavior either holds water or it doesn’t.
We’re not talking about philosophy here. In the workplace, in our relationships, in our government, we have a duty to proceed from objective facts. We do not determine the truth by committee or by whim or by fiat. In matters such as Mr. Giuliani was discussing, there is only one truth. And it can be determined.
Without truth, you cannot have accountability.
Deception is grey. The truth is black and white. Deception and accountability can NEVER coexist.
People lie to try and protect themselves. People deceive in order to manipulate and try to personally gain something. Deception takes lying to a deeper level, often by omitting facts.
It is our responsibility to check the facts and to stand up to untruth and deception. Following deception blindly, when we know better, is negligence on our part.
Deception is usually premeditated, measured, planned and maliciously deployed. And we each have a moral obligation to notice it and call it out when it happens.
It just did. On a big scale. And what Mr. Giuliani just did should serve as a teaching moment for all leaders and prospective leaders.
Here’s the takeaway. Accountable leaders do not stray from the truth. They build relationships with their people based on what they say being the absolute truth. Period.
When the relationship is based on the truth, you have an accountable leader, and a dependable leader. The team knows they can count on the leader for the truth … and they want to be accountable in return. That’s the kind of leadership we should all be striving to support.