My daughter is almost 5. She’s quite communicative for her age and has shown solid social recognition from the time she could speak. As a shock to none of you parents out there, she has also twisted the truth a time or two…telling me what she thinks I want to hear in order to earn what she wants (a chocolate treat).
Now innocent and even comical as that may be for a young child, there’s a temptation for that same tendency to grow in all of us adults in the workforce.
It’s that temptation to adapt and project ourselves as what we think someone wants to hear…even if it’s not entirely true.
Unfortunately as an executive search consultant, I’ve seen this tendency to bend the truth on both sides of the table from candidates and clients. An astounding number of executives exaggerate on their resume – with studies reporting anywhere from 46% to 85% of resumes contain some sort of fabrication. The HireRight survey that first presented that 85% projection includes lies found on resumes of a CEO of a global manufacturer, the Dean of a prestigious private university, the Chairman of a defense manufacturer, and a technology CEO.
The truth bending does not necessarily end there. At times, companies attempt to portray a culture that is not their reality, or occasionally fib about the expectations of the role within the company. It’s a tough thing to face as an executive search consultant, which is why our job relies on translating the truth clearly and transparently – and encouraging our clients and candidates to do the same.
The repercussions for not leading with integrity in the executive search world holds much higher consequences than that of my daughter’s fib. Often, it’s at the crippling expense of families, teams, and sometimes entire organizations. A white lie here or there might land you the executive role you’re seeking, but it could have a long-term impact on your work reputation, happiness and family.
With that in mind, I’d like to remind all the executives pursuing new opportunities, and the hiring managers pursuing new leaders, to have both the courage and confidence to stand tall in who you are. Every person and company has a unique story and experience. A guaranteed executive hire can only happen with transparency, honesty and integrity from both parties.
In the words of Patrick Lencioni: “Be an ideal team player, drive to be Hungry, Humble, and Smart… push, learn, give and grow… but never without INTEGRITY.” It’s the most important factor in our relationships and as much as I tell my daughter, no “chocolate treat” is worth it.
This is the second part of the Building Relationships series. You can read the first article here: Are we losing FOCUS in our relationships?
Matthew Hayes is an executive search consultant with The Human Capital Group, an executive search and leadership advisory firm. Matthew has personally led over 50 searches with a strong focus on Industrial, Technological, and Health Care sectors. As a Consultant, he continues “delivering lasting results through people,” serving organizations as they seek to Find, Strengthen and Grow leadership.