Truth Telling as a Business Asset?

Every business is looking for a competitive advantage and some are finding that being truthful with customers is paying dividends (while some are turning to deceitful ways to gain a short term advantage).

It is sad, but being honest and truthful is becoming more uncommon in the business world. Conversely, being truthful in all business dealings serves as a refreshing, competitive advantage. We all like to do business with someone we like and trust; customers will return and bring repeat business (and tell friends) to those that honor their commitments.
 
Read what my friend Phil Clemens (CEO of Clemens Family Corporation (i.e. Hatfield Meats) has to say about truth in his most recent monthly email.
 
“Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” - Albert Einstein
 
Great leaders know it is never right to tell a lie. Society tells us – it was just a “little white lie,” it didn’t hurt anything or anybody and after all – everyone does it. (Isn’t this the very excuse that makes us, as parents, cringe when used by our children? We don’t allow them to use this excuse, so why would we tolerate it from our business associates?) Einstein reminds us that truth is truth and if you aren’t truthful in small things, you will never be truthful in large ones – in fact, you can’t be trusted with large ones.
 
Our Core Values at The Clemens Family Corporation go right to the heart of what Einstein reminds us about. Two of our Core Values are Integrity (which we define as I’ll do what I say) and Ethics (I’ll do the right thing) – which means truth is serious whether it is a small matter or a large one. When I say I will tell the truth and don’t, I violate both of these key core values.
 
At times I get tempted to “stretch the truth.” It’s not really a lie, but it really isn’t quite the truth either. Again, Einstein reminds us that “stretching the truth” really isn’t taking truth seriously and like it or not, if it’s not the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) it really is a lie and you can’t be trusted in the big issues.
 
This is tough talk that I need to hear. There is no excuse not to be honest and truthful. Just none! I can try to wiggle and squirm and justify why it may seem right – but I really know it isn’t right.
 
Join with me to be known as TRUTH TELLERS. Commit to tell the truth, even if it hurts (but do it in a loving way). Telling the truth at all times might not be easy – but it is the right thing. Remember when you learn to tell the truth in small matters, you will be trusted with much greater matters. Trust is earned from others when we tell the truth.

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by Scott Heintzelman - Scott is a CPA, CMA and CFE living in Pennsylvania. Scott is a partner serving on the executive team at McKonly & Asbury LLP, a regional accounting firm with multiple offices in the Mid-Atlantic. The firm has been an IPA ALL-STAR as well as winning Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania for numerous years.

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