Truth and Morale in Turbulent Times


I found myself on my radio show on Saturday, tucked between a renowned business consultant-and-writer, and a CEO of a successful public relations firm. We were talking about executing and leading in these tough times, and they were in remarkable agreement.

Ram Charan, co-author of Execution has just published a new book Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty. He had time to squeeze in two points. The first was cash, cash, cash – in these times you have to watch your cash. This is true of companies and true of individuals. When assets are not liquid, banks are not lending, customers may cut back on you, attention to cash is vital.

The second point he made was that you have to communicate, communicate and communicate some more. There is so much rumor and fear, so much misinformation out there, that you can’t afford not to tell folks what’s up. I asked, “Doesn’t that kill morale even more – especially when there is some bad news out there?” “No,” Charan insisted, “Bad morale is caused by misinformation and fear…People can confront distress when they have facts, clarity and specificity, the more people know the source of the difficulty.”

Kelly Rossman affirmed that the core advice she gives to her PR clients in “crisis management” is: get the facts out there, be clear and specific. Where mistakes have been made, acknowledge them and move on.

People want their leaders to solve problems – to attack the market, bring out better products, etc. But they also want their leaders to keep them up to speed, to give them an accurate picture, and to tell them where they can help. If you’ve been avoiding some tough news, put trust and confidence back in your workers, by communicating with directness and specificity to

Lead with your best self,



  • Yes, today cash is king. As deflation continues for the near future, today’s cash will become more valuable. More at:

    In tough economic times, it is important to facilitate communication between job seekers and those that can help them find appropriate work. Today, the Internet helps job seeker questioners get answers from those who can help. Social networks, like, help connect those hoping to make career moves with career coaches/advisors and recruiters.

  • I learned a valuable lesson from a boss years ago when he instilled in me to “Give me the bad news first, the good news can wait”. I have adhered to that maxim over the years with good results – people want to know the truth.


  • I find that telling the truth can be challenging — especailly when you know it doesn’t sound good.
    Yet, there is incredible relief in having the courage to “tell it like it is.”
    thank you for emphasizing that powerful combination of truth and communication.

  • Wow. I’ve been saying this for years and have always met with resistance when I talked to executives. I agree 100% with your speakers. There’s power in the truth.

  • I could hardly believe my eyes…your speakers were pointing directly to the heart of the economic crisis. My father, who lived his entire life as a hard-working blue-collar employee, once gave me the most sage advice I ever received. He told me that you can recover from almost any loss, but the toughest recovery is from the loss of your integrity and the loss of trust from those who depend on you. When you play with the truth or withold information in an attempt to control it, you risk terrible loss. Truth builds a solid foundation for action. Lies and half-truths build a web, and webs leak, tear, and need repair. Eventually, you spend all your time repairing your web and nothing on meeting your challenges or making good on opportunities.

    Sadly, although these dark web-masters end up tangled in their webs and worse for the wear, they entangle others, who entangle others, and so on. Despite historic examples of the terrible results of the webs we weave, some of us continue to disown the truth and seek to hide it. Telling the whole truth may be incredibly difficult at the time you do it, but in the long run you will save time, save money, and save your good name — not to mention building long-lived trust with those you seek to lead.

  • Share all the news, good and bad, incomplete, whatever you know, applies in private life, too. When my late husband, much loved by many, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we kept friends and family informed all the way–every CT scan, every treatment, every time he nearly left us due to harsh treatments, and every time he came back. Every little triumph and every loss of one more body system. The returns we got on this investment of energy were enormous: a ton of emotional support from everywhere, indicating that all were keeping him and us in their prayers, that all were pulling for us, that all appreciated the updates. It kept us connected to life, and that may be why he stayed alive three times longer than health care professionals at a major teaching hospital predicted. It’s a good idea to keep those lines of communication open, no matter what the situation.

  • Another timely “RfL” Dan. I am living through a very challenging budgeting process at my school. Our endowment has fallen to levels not seen in years , our capital campaign is in neutral and all around me people are anxious and worried about their future. In my brief time on the job, I have found that the only effective, mission-appropriate way to lead is to keep my school community up to date with what is going on in our school – both the good and the not so good. Thanks for another “shot in the arm”.

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