According to the recent news reports, RJ Reynolds lied about how addictive and harmful smoking cigarettes are and General Motors lied about the quality of their automobiles. Companies are continuously on record for lying about the benefits of their products. Where does it stop?
When a company lies they are not being accountable to the public, their employees or their investors. At some point society must send a message. RJ Reynolds was just ordered to pay a US $23.6 billion dollar fine to the wife of a smoker. General Motors has recalled over 11 million automobiles. This isn’t enough. We seem to believe that money makes up for lost lives, injuries and leaders who lie to the people they serve.
At some point we must stop letting people get away with the lies. We must as a society demand that leaders tell us the truth or they will not be allowed to continue to lead.
Accountable leaders always look to serve first, they are transparent and when something is wrong they fix it and fix it fast. “Cover up” is not in their vocabulary or in their leadership toolkit. The problem is that so many companies are focused solely on the bottom line rather then their employees, customers and investors.
The ironic part of all of this is that leaders and organizations that focus on serving the people who are responsible for the company’s success end up being the most successful and profitable over time. Our corporate leaders should not be judged only on profits and return on investment, but also on an accountability score that includes a “return on relationships”, the relationships that exist with customers, employees and investors.
When your first priority is to serve and you show people that they matter and come first, you will be less likely to try and cover up mistakes and possible losses. When you decide that you must do what is right first, then what comes next is profits and bottom line results. Choose to be an accountable leader and when your name is in the news it will be about your successes and not your failures. Lying never leads to accountability.