Letters to the editor

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Lies – including political ones – undermine trust, which undermines your ability to do your job

9 November 2020

Dear editor,

Any professional has to have integrity as a core value. All professionals are expected to work on many separate teams, and trust is the foundation of any team.

No chartered accountant will provide alternative accounts, no scientist will provide alternative data to suit an agenda. That would amount to professional misconduct and result in the end of their employment. It also makes poor business sense, since the penalties for unethical behaviour can be severe both for the individuals and the company.

People who vote for, campaign for, or even tolerate individuals and organisations which operate on a basis of “alternative facts”, lies and obfuscation are comfortable with that approach and approve of that trait in the candidates they vote for. Recent populist leaders have been shown beyond doubt to have perpetuated literally thousands of outright untruths and misleading statements. In no other walk of life would this level of duplicity be tolerated: not in a doctor, a builder, a teacher or a shopkeeper, not even in an unskilled labourer.

If a supporter of one of the current populist leaders joined your team, you might wonder whether they were bringing that relaxed attitude to the truth to work, too. Will your boss, accountant, finance manager, engineering colleague, safety consultant, etc. be providing you with “alternative facts“ to suit an agenda or belief?

In reality, you wouldn’t be able to trust them. If you can’t trust them, the team can’t be effective – see Patrick Lencioni’s “The 5 dysfunctions of a team” for a textbook on that topic.

Supporting, or even tolerating, people, organisations, publications, or political parties that make repeated, demonstrably untrue statements affects your ability, and people’s perception of your ability, to do your job, to be professional, to be on a team.

Yours faithfully,

Ronan Bellabarba

Marske by the Sea

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