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When leaders devolve into liars

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

If it seems inconceivable to you that Lewis “Scooter” Libby ever could have outed an American spy and then lied to cover it up, consider this:

He’s merely the latest example of a high-level operative caught in the ancient trap of considering himself among the best and the brightest, a tribe whose members think they don’t have to play by the rules because they serve a higher calling and they can tell little lies to reach exalted goals.

This time, it’s “national security.” Other times, it’s been “executive privilege” and “manifest destiny.”

In his zeal, Libby probably believed he was protecting his boss in a great cause: the defeat of Islamic terrorism. And now, his belief has backfired on him in the form of a five-count federal indictment for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

Lesson: Effective leaders tell only “noble lies”: those in which the lie’s subject remains unharmed while the lie benefits someone other than the teller.

— Adapted from “Cheney’s Cheney,” Evan Thomas, Newsweek.

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