If you’re anything like me, you’ve read something on the internet, especially on social media, and your emotions wanted so much to believe it, you took it at face value later to find out it was false.
When I first started studying in the field of Christian apologetics (rational defense for the truth claims of Christianity), I came across a short story about a college student who took his professor to task on his refutation of God based on his inability to see him and the student’s inability to see the professor’s brain. The story is attributed to Einstein.
With a sense of righteous indignation, I shared the story on social media, and within minutes a Snopes article was linked in the comments and the falsity of the story was abundantly clear. My ego was vanquished (momentarily) as I realized I confidently shared a lie. Worse yet, the person who linked the refutation wasn’t another Christian believer, she was as pagan as the day is long. Not only had I presented false information to defend the faith, I was debunked by someone I hoped to reach.
I ate my shoe that night, and since then I have made a point to fact check information before sharing it or at least add a disclaimer that I haven’t fact checked the content for validity.
In your role as a leader people look to you for truth. They rely on you to present them with information that is going to guide them in the right direction. You are the standard bearer by which they made decisions to execute the duties you assigned to them.
When I was the Executive Director at Relevant Hope I recruited a board member to add some social authority to the organization. The person’s spouse was influential in the community through government, and that person was well-respected because of the influence of their spouse.
In the first board meeting that person attended, while I was presenting our finances and bragging about only 11% overheard, the new board member spouted off some facts and figures about the salaries of some national nonprofit agencies and how we were doing great to have such low overhead. By the time that person was in the second agency of the list, I realized that I had read that same information on a social media post a week or so before.
Thankfully, that person fell off the board before they could make it to another meeting. It was another learning moment for me that led me to vet board members more thoroughly too.
Having seen the post and being intrigued by the information, I fact checked it when I first read it and discovered it was false. I was embarrassed that I now had someone on my board, helping to lead the organization who couldn’t be trusted to provide reliable information.
Your leadership requires you to spend the extra effort to find out if the information you are providing is true. You are the North Star guiding your followers home, and they need to know they can believe what you’re telling them.
Trust is something that takes a long time to earn and only a moment to lose.
Question: When have you done something similar to what I’ve described and how did you adjust to keep it from happening again? Share it with us so we can all learn together. You can leave a comment by clicking here.