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The Alliance Lion

The Importance of Telling the Truth

Welcome to the 2nd blog post on Trustworthiness. This week we are going to dive into the first characteristic of trustworthiness – Be Truthful. We are continuing to leverage the 2002 research study published in Business Ethics on the ethical benefits of trust-based partnering. In this post we are identifying steps you should take to show you are truthful as well as red flags you should pay attention to indicating a partner might not be truthful. Lastly, we will consider a BlindSpot of which to be aware so you don’t undermine your own reputation accidently.

Be Truthful

·       Demonstrate honesty and integrity

·       Be willing to forsake all forms of deception

These actions to show truthfulness are applicable to your different stakeholder partners: your employees, your customers, your vendors, your shareholders and other stakeholders. They are referred to below simply as partner. It might be your human resources team that applies these actions to your employees, your marketing team that applies them to your customers, your procurement team that applies them to your vendors and your leadership team that applies these to your shareholders. Or, if you are a small organization, you might have to balance your time between the various stakeholders, as I’m sure you are used to doing.


How you can show you are Truthful:

-Operate with overt not covert agendas – being clear with what is needed from a partner or a relationship, being clear and detailed with the risks and rewards

-Ensure all partners’ views and attitudes are fairly represented especially when working through conflict or problem solving

-When something goes wrong, put the focus on solving the problem and getting the task / relationship back on the correct path

-Be willing to protect the interests of your partners (how can you do right by them while meeting your business goals)


When dealing with another company – pay attention to these Red Flags indicating the partner you are working with might not be Truthful:

-Always points out what could go wrong without contributing to solutions – or worse, a partner undermines a group decision in public

-You are responsible for a disproportionate amount work for the success of the shared goal, yet the reward does not match expected effort

-Not all knowledge is shared at the time of decision making or conflict resolution resulting in you making choices with partial fact patterns  – possibly in an attempt to sway your decision

-When something goes wrong, the focus is on blaming someone for the failure and seeking retribution


Lastly, we should consider and be mindful of possible BlindSpots.  BlindSpots are psychological tendencies that blind us to ethical decision making and ethical action. BlindSpots can get in the way of our commitment to do the right thing. They are a part of everyone’s psychology. Our minds do a lot of work to make our daily lives easier, sometimes oversimplifying, overgeneralizing, or just plain overlooking things. Occasionally, this threatens our commitment to ethics. In aiming to be truthful, be cautious of the BlindSpot often known as Self-Serving Bias.

 In self-serving bias, we see things in ways that support our self-interest or our perception of ourselves. We explain things away because they serve our interest.

 For example, during a time of shelter in place, where the government requested non-essential people stay at home for public safety, a gaming company declared their employees “essential personnel” and required them to come to work for two days, which happened to coincide with the release of a new and hotly anticipated video game.  It allowed the company the chance to sell their inventory under the pretense of essential services for society.  Does it appear honest? Is there any deception there? These are questions to consider when staking a stance or making a decision.

 Next we’ll deep dive into being transparent.


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Source of helpful information leveraged in this post:

Wood, G., McDermott, P., & Swan, W. (2002). The ethical benefits of trust-based partnering: the example of the construction industry. Business Ethics: A European Review, 11(1), 4–13.

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