Chris Christie’s Leadership Opportunity

There are so many disgusting sides to the whole “Bridgegate” saga that they are too numerous to mention. This much seems clear: it actually happened. A member, or members of New Jersey Governor’s Chris Christie’s administration shut down access lanes to one of the busiest bridges in the world. They are alleged to have done this purely for vengeance against a mayor who declined to endorse the Governor in the most recent election. They messed around with thousands of people’s lives, potentially endangering some of them, all for political “payback.” 

Who and how many may have had a hand in this reprehensible political garbage is yet to be fully determined.  But we know who is responsible. 

If Governor Christie wants to be a leader, an authentic leader, he will quit with the Sargent Schultz “I knew nothing” statements and step up and admit his ultimate responsibility. That’s how it works, it’s the only way it works, for authentic leaders.

Let me give you an example from the business world. You’re a leader who leads someone that isn’t performing up to expectations. There are only two possibilities that can lead to that type of situation. Either you as the leader have placed that person in the wrong position or you as the leader are not giving them the tools they need to succeed. Either way, you as the leader are responsible for their performance. 

Poor leaders will make all kinds of excuses. They will blame the person they put in the position. They say things like the person isn’t smart enough, the person is a slow learner, the person doesn’t “reflect the views or values” of this organization. But it was the leader who put them in that position. The leader put them in a position where they were destined to fail. 

You may not like it but that is reality. Leadership, authentic leadership, comes with enormous responsibility. If you’re going to call yourself a leader then you better accept the responsibility that comes with it. That includes responsibility for the people you hire and promote. 

Saying you didn’t know what your people are doing is nothing less than saying “I’m a poor leader.” Authentic leaders know that delegating responsibility for a task does not relieve them of the responsibility for how it gets done. 

If Governor Christie want’s to demonstrate leadership in this matter he will admit his responsibility. If I were advising the Governor, (not like that’s ever going to happen) here is what I’d suggest he say: “There has been a failure within MY administration and I am responsible for it. I can’t say exactly how it happened and entirely who and how many are involved… YET. But I will get to the bottom of this and I will FULLY share with EVERYONE any and EVERYTHING that is uncovered. When we get to the root cause of this which is surely about more than a couple of rouge employees. Then we will let the chips fall where they may.”

Authentic leaders do not throw their people under the bus, they hold them accountable but they hold themselves even more accountable. Governor Christie has a real opportunity to lead here. The United States is about to learn if the Governor of New Jersey is a true leader or just a savvy politician good at making excuses like so many others.

The Real Truth About Lying

The first big lie is that there are levels of lying, that lower level, little lies don’t really matter. They do matter and here’s why: lying becomes habit forming, especially those little lies you tell yourself.

They matter because little lies grow into big lies, those little lies also multiply, quickly growing beyond your control. The very first lie you tell will almost guarantee another lie somewhere down the road. The next lie is always bigger than the last but no lie is big enough to hide the truth forever, sooner or later the truth will prevail. 

Sometimes people lie to “protect” others or to “protect” a relationship but the truth is they’re likely really just protecting themselves. They can’t fully explain the truth so they just find it easier to lie. Most lies are “self” motivated, meaning you lie for yourself but you’ll never see that until you’re honest with yourself. That’s how the cycle of lying begins and once it begins it’s very hard to stop.

The truth about lying is that it’s incredibly expensive. It often costs the liar far more than it costs the person lied to. Unless of course the person you have lied to is yourself; that is the most expensive lie of all.

When you lie to yourself you steal your opportunity for success, lies take your motivation to give your best effort away. They give you permission to fail. When you lie to yourself you no longer feel obligated to accept responsibility for your actions. When you tell yourself “you’ve done all that you can” when in fact you know in your heart that you haven’t, then you steal your own opportunity to reach your full potential. 

There are no lies more damaging than the lies you tell yourself because the fact is, if you’re lying to yourself you’re lying to everyone else too. 

That doesn’t mean however that it’s okay to lie to others as long as you’re honest with yourself. Lying to anyone is damaging to your integrity. In business, in relationships, and in life there is no greater asset to have than integrity. 

Without integrity you instantly lose the ability to lead. If your people can’t trust you they won’t follow you. If your people can’t believe you they won’t believe in you. If they don’t believe in you they find it hard to believe anything you say. That makes it pretty tough to truly lead. 

When you lie you lose relationships. Real relationships, every real relationship is built on trust. That’s why when you lie to “protect” a relationship you’re almost always doing more damage in the long run. It may be easier for you in the short-term but if you really want to protect the relationship then tell the truth from the beginning. 

Not only do lies damage relationships with others, if you lie long enough and you even lose yourself. 

When you simply tell the truth, every time, you have much less to remember. There is no need to remember who you told what because you told everyone the same thing. Telling the truth sets you free from the worry of “slipping up” and having to tell another lie to hide the last one. 

One more thing for the doubters reading this: if you don’t believe you’re smart enough to be able to tell the truth without offending people then you’re most definitely lying to yourself. Set yourself free and tell the truth, you’re smart enough to do that.

How to Give a Sincere Compliment

Has someone ever given you a compliment and you subconsciously questioned their motives? Perhaps it was even subconsciously. Maybe you just downright wondered if they wanted something in return.

It’s nice to give compliments. It’s better to give unquestionably sincere ones. The kind that leaves no doubt that you meant what you said and that you expect nothing in return. Sometimes we just throw out complements in kind of a mindless fashion. We mean what we say, we just don’t put enough thought into it to make certain the person on the receiving it knows how sincere we are.

An unquestionably sincere compliment actually has two parts. The compliment and the evidence to back it up. Think of it this way; you give someone a compliment and then notice this look on their face. The look indicates that they are wondering why you said that.

So don’t let them wonder. 

Immediately after giving the compliment just add “and the reason I say that is.” The “reason” is the evidence. It adds depth to the compliment, it supports it’s sincerity. It leaves no doubt as to your motive for giving it. The compliment becomes more valuable. 

This takes a bit of work, it requires some thought before you just toss out the next “nice job” compliment. It’s worth it however when you see the difference in how people respond to what you’ve said. Give it a try and see for yourself. 

I can’t end a post about giving compliments without at least mentioning the proper way to receive one. 

Never give a compliment back. By that I mean when someone says “nice shirt,” don’t respond by saying “this old thing.” When you say that you’ve just refused the compliment and may even have offended the person who gave you the compliment.

The only proper way of responding to a compliment is to say “thank you.” Nothing more is needed. Just say thanks! 

Hey, while we’re at it, thanks for reading this post.