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The lie that Hitler took to his grave

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in Leaders & Managers

Late in World War II, when the tide had turned against Germany, Adolf Hitler tried to lift the spirits of his generals, his soldiers and the public by claiming that “secret weapons” were under development that would win the war quickly. The weapons were coming soon, he told everyone.

The problem: No such weapons existed.

Hitler’s advisers told him that, as people realized this, morale would plummet. But Hitler was so committed to his lie that he never rescinded it, even as the Allies swept into Berlin.

That’s an extreme case study. But it serves as a cautionary tale to leaders who are tempted to overpromise. Lying and optimism are not the same thing.

—Adapted from Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer, MacMillan.

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