The Deception Trap of Leadership

In my last post, “The Remarkable Power of the Truth Teller” we touched upon the idea that people do lie and stretch the truth.

The price of lying is often a high one: being known as a deceiver.

If a leader lies, people cannot trust them.

If your boss lies, you cannot rely on them.

If your manager lies, you cannot count on them.

If your colleague lies, you cannot hold confidence in them.

The lack of trust is a high price to pay for deception, and it can cause a great trap—one that the deceiver isn’t even aware of. But you can identify deceivers by these traits, which are among side effects of deception:

Emotionally manipulative. Often deceivers will ask you to choose or pressure you to say that you trust them and rely on them—although in truth the only thing they’re concerned with is whether they can count on you. Unreliable themselves, they question everything.

Notorious blamers. Deceivers never take accountability or responsibility. They’re great at blaming others for everything and anything that goes wrong. They’re quick to point a finger instead of saying, I messed up, I am sorry. The more in the wrong they are the quicker they will be to blame others.

Professional bait and switchers. Deceivers may convince you that you have their commitment and support but even a minor challenge or situation or change in conditions will be enough to send them running.

Remarkably charming. Deceivers are often quite charming—it’s one of the tools they use to take advantage of others. They know how to get your attention, even if they don’t know how to keep it.

Any practice of deception on your own part will derail your leadership in the blink of an eye. That’s why you need to learn to leverage the parts of yourself that lend themselves to deception. Some examples

Don’t let pride get the best of you. Sometimes we become deceivers because we feel inadequate about who we are. You may feel that you don’t measure up to those around you, and suffer from feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, so you take the other direction. Don’t allow pride to become arrogance—work on bringing out the best parts of who you are and celebrate them with humility.

Stop obscuring the truth. Self-deception obscures the truth about who you are and corrupts the views others have of you. The truth is your future, and it depends on how well you manage today. Ask yourself whether a lack of clarity is helpful or just comfortable.

Admit when you are wrong. The best leaders admit when they have made a mistake. They’re brave enough to say “I messed up and I will do better next time.” Great power lies in telling the truth. We’re not perfect and we mess up and we have to say we are wrong—there’s nothing more human.

Learn to be flexible. The best leaders know that to be great leaders they must become flexible and agile enough to change with the times. Nothing will ever remain the same as a leader; you have to learn to go with the flow.

Lead from within: When you stop deceiving and instead speak the truth about what makes you feel ashamed, vulnerable or inadequate, you are one step closer to achieving greatness within.

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Obat Sipilis Dan Kencing Nanah

    02. Jun, 2017

    Thanks for sharing..

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ashton Mckinni

    18. Jun, 2017

    I find it interesting that a person can tell a thousand truths but all it takes is one lie to be labeled a deceiver. For anyone in a leadership role, trust is key to being effective. Excellent post Lolly

    Reply to this comment
  3. Frederick Nightingale

    10. Jul, 2017

    This is definitely a great post. Self deception is a betrayal of the self as we refuse to see the truth.
    As Elvin Semrad said: “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

    Reply to this comment
  4. Hamilton Lindley

    24. May, 2019

    Deception is a terrible thing. And like leadership, it comes from the inside out. It is often based in short term thinking and insecurity. I’ve found that admitting the awful truth builds credibility with others. And if you admit fault with other deceivers, they will only use it against you. But in the end, it’s worth it to be truthful — even if you suffer consequences for it.

    Reply to this comment

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