Perfect example: When former NFL player Pat Tillman died under fire in Afghanistan, his fellow soldiers knew almost immediately that they’d killed him by mistake. But in a stupid attempt to look good, the Army shushed its soldiers and told Tillman’s family that he’d died while storming a hill, shouting orders to his Rangers.
Finding out that the story was a lie, Tillman’s parents reacted exactly the way your employees would if they caught you in one: They believed nothing more the Army had to say.
Tillman’s mother, Mary, bristles at top officials lying to protect their image. Her mind is roiled with theories about what really happened.
“You imagine things,” she says. “The truth may be painful, but it’s the truth. You start to contrive all these scenarios that could have taken place because they just kept lying.”
Like employees who’ve been snookered, she became cynical. She thinks the Army is covering up other facts, “or they wouldn’t still be covering their tails.”
Lesson: Suck it up, and level with your people.
— Adapted from “Tillman’s Parents Are Critical of Army,” Josh White, The Washington Post, and Winning, Jack and Suzy Welch, HarperBusiness.