Nothing sours a great working relationship like knowing that that business relationship was based on a big fat lie. No business in any industry appreciates a liar because honesty is an essential part of any business venture. Why do you think it’s so hard for SMEs to get appointments with Fortune 500 decision makers? When millions of dollars in profits and the livelihood of hundreds of people are on the line, company executives and directors have to make sure that that critical decision will be for the benefit of all parties involved, and that critical decision won’t happen if honesty is not part of the equation.
Even white lies are not acceptable in the harsh environment known as the business world. Competition is a constant threat, and should your more aggressive competitors sniff out a deceitful statement, don't expect them to let you off the hook without a price.
This is best exemplified by Yahoo's recent dismissal of its (yet another) CEO, Scott Thompson. Thompson succeeded former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, but after only a brief 5-month term in service, Thompson was ousted by Yahoo. The reason? It seems Thompson thought that adding a degree in computer science to his resume won’t be much of a problem, considering a large number of tech CEOs these days didn’t even finish college. However, admitting that you don’t have a college degree and claiming that you do have one (when in fact you don’t), are entirely two different things. Thompson blames the resume gaffe on Heidrick & Struggles, an executive-recruiting firm that got him his previous Paypal position. However, it should be noted that not once did Thompson try to correct the bogus information on his bio, which means he was willing to continue playing the part of a “computer science engineer” had Daniel Loeb (founder of Third Point LLC and Yahoo investor) not checked his bio.
Others might argue that, in the case of Mr. Thompson, it is better to retain a liar who is skilled in getting work done than an honest employee whose work is only mediocre. Well I say let the liars lead and let's see where your company will be in 3 years! Your business might become lucrative, but in all probability, that business will no longer be yours. Another great concern here is the nature of Yahoo’s business. As an internet corporation, Yahoo handles large amounts of confidential client information. If the directors of Yahoo didn’t fire Thompson, how are they to expect users to continue entrusting their information with a company whose leader is less than trustworthy?
Honesty is the greatest requirement for integrity, and a leader's integrity is one that he should protect with the utmost care. Think about it, if a supposed leader needs to lie just to get the position he wants, it only means that he is not worthy to be in that position in the first place. Honesty is a moral and social obligation that should never be disregarded by business leaders, no matter what size of company they work in.