“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” – George Orwell in 1984
In November 2016, The Guardian reported: “In the era of Donald Trump and Brexit, Oxford Dictionaries has declared ‘post-truth’ to be its international word of the year. Defined by the dictionary as an adjective ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’…use of the term ‘post-truth’ had increased by around 2,000% in 2016” compared to the previous year.
Of course, the suggestion that Donald Trump, Brexit, and a new buzzword herald a new era of dishonesty in history is persuasive only to those who know nothing about history or human beings. Go back to the earliest civilisations and you will find the lie limbering up for its long journey through the ages, sabotaging every attempt at true human community. There is no post-truth era – the lie has always been the scourge of society and the nemesis of leadership.
The reality is that people who condone falsehood are in effect promoting misleadership. When a society, even one in which lies are told in every moment, repudiates its commitment to truth, leadership must inevitably suffer. Leadership is built on vision, virtue, and vigilance, all of which depend on truth; misleadership, by contrast, seeks only to deceive, control, and exploit, with an ever-lurking propensity for violence.
In a recent article in The Washington Post, Barton Swaim parades the moral confusion that gives the post-truth epithet its only relevance. While he correctly notes that American political culture pre-Trump was hardly characterized by reverence for truth, he sees Trump as different not because “he treats the truth with contempt”, but “that he does so openly, almost gleefully, as if he has discovered the phoniness of a myth that holds everyone else in check”.
ANDRE VAN HEERDEN heads the corporate leadership program The Power of Integrity, and is the author of three books on leadership, Leaders and Misleaders, An Educational Bridge for Leaders, and Leading Like You Mean It. He has unique qualifications for addressing the leadership crisis. Since studying law at Rhodes University, he has been a history teacher, a deputy headmaster, a soldier, a refugee, an advertising writer, a creative director, an account director on multinational brands, a marketing consultant, and a leadership educator. He has worked in all business categories on blue-chip brands like Toyota, Ford, Jaguar, Canon, American Express, S C Johnson, Kimberley Clark, and John Deere, while leadership coaching has seen him help leaders and aspirant leaders in Real Estate, Retail, the Science Sector, Local Government, Education, Food Safety, Banking, and many other areas. Contact – Facebook – Google+ – LinkedIn – Twitter
Photo Credit – PDPics