Accountability, Integrity and Ethics

Truth and Leadership

Not too long ago I watched the miniseries of Mr Bates vs the Post Office which is based on a true story. Hundreds of sub post office managers across Britain were accused and penalised by the UK Post Office allegedly for embezzlement, while the PO was found to have resorted to lies, deceit and the destruction of evidence to hide the truth.  The cause of the missing money was a new computer system that was able to be accessed without the knowledge of the local PO managers. At one point Alan Bates tells his fellow accused, “we’re not ultimately fighting for compensation, for clearing our reputations, or for justice. We’re fighting for the truth!” It’s from truth, that everything else flows – compensation, reputation and justice. Truth is the ultimate foundation for success.

Two thousand years ago a Jewish prophet and spiritual leader stated, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Why were Bates and his friends determined to keep on fighting till the truth came out? Because truth is freeing, as Jesus claimed.

Without truth there’s no basis for trust and without trust, there’s no foundation for confidence and security. Without truth there’s no basis for intelligent decision making. Without truth there is no capacity for collaboration among workers and between workers and management. Once an organisation’s leadership has created a culture, either intentionally or unintentionally, where truth is unappreciated or unsafe it won’t be long before truth telling is a casualty throughout the organisation.

Lack of truth breeds fear, suspicion and cynicism all of which destroy communities and organisations. We saw it recently play out with Russian citizens’ and the global community’s anger at the Russian Government over the suspicious death of the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. In a time of a cost of living crisis it also can be seen in the cynicism and hostility of Australian shoppers towards the big supermarket chains over accusations of price gouging and mortgage holders towards the banks that won’t pass on in full interest rate cuts.

But truth telling can be costly. Those leaders and organisations that resort to deceit, lies, threats, bribes or manipulation will often go to any lengths to hide the truth. Mr Bates Vs the Post Office clearly highlights how the UK PO resorted to such tactics to protect their brand which they claimed to be ‘the most trusted organisation in Britain’.


Truth is the foundation for everything that is positive and constructive. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s publication of the truth of soviet communism’s atrocities in his book The Gulag Archipelago globally destroyed the moral credibility of communism and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Increasingly there seems to be a concerted attempt in Western society to undermine truth. Donald Trump with his claims of ‘fake news’ and refusal to acknowledge any culpability over actions for which American courts have found him guilty is a classic example of such a trend.

And as we know with the recent death (murder?) of Navalny, truth telling is often costly. However, leaders who build their reputation and credibility consistently on the foundation of truth gain incredible influence with their people and are harbingers of hope to their worlds.

Graham Beattie

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1 thought on “Truth and Leadership

  1. Another excellent blog, there is only one person to aspire and live like – Jesus, He is The Way, The Truth and The Life!
    Thank you for your thoughts and I believe we will have to look at “Mr Bates vs the Post Office!”

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