Why Honesty Matters in Business Management

Business Management

Everybody knows that there are managers out there who have mastered the art of deception. Even if they don’t resort to manipulating others, they exaggerate their own achievements and try to conceal their mistakes in an effort to make a good impression. Many people genuinely believe that this is how the game is played and that it is the only way to get ahead. How, they ask, can an honest person ever really compete?

Those with this attitude might be surprised to learn that a new, growing focus on honesty in management is leaving them behind. The simple fact of the matter is that managers who are honest and self-critical get better results. Here is a look at some of the reasons that honesty matters in business management.


The art of management begins with organization, and organization begins with knowing what assets can be brought to the table. One of those assets is you. In order to manage yourself effectively, you need to be realistic about your abilities and understand your limitations as clearly as possible. You can’t do this if you’re lying to yourself or if you put making yourself seem flawless to others ahead of getting each job done with maximum efficiency.

You should always strive to understand your own flaws and biases better because this will give you a good idea of when you need to delegate. You’ll know when you’re taking on too much or failing to pull your weight, and you will be able to integrate more effectively into the workplace team.

Being fair

Acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses while accepting accountability for your own mistakes means that the people working for you will be much more willing to accept your assessments of them. They will accept criticism more graciously when they feel that you are holding yourself to the same standard.

Developing a reputation for fairness makes it much easier to keep your team on your side when you have difficult decisions to make. It helps to develop a real sense of being a team, and if you’re working for one department within a larger company, the positive atmosphere this generates can be infectious, encouraging other managers to adopt the same approach. They will see how effective it is because employee loyalty strongly correlates with productivity. Furthermore, when you are viewed as being honest and fair, you are less likely to face misconduct allegations or be treated unfairly as people are more likely to take you at your word.

Building trust

In addition to increasing loyalty within your business or department, a more honest and self-critical approach helps to build trust. It encourages people to feel that they can be honest with you, so you will have a better idea of what is going on in the lives of your team members and will be in a better position to intervene if something is going wrong.

You’ll be able to provide support where needed, and you’ll be less likely to have to deal with unscheduled absences. You will know when a team member is finding something too difficult and will be able to provide training or reassign a task accordingly. This means that fewer mistakes will be made and work will get done more efficiently. A reputation for honesty also means that you will be more likely to be trusted by those above you in the hierarchy. It can even spread externally and become an advantage in business-to-business negotiations, making you more likely to be selected to speak on behalf of the whole organization.

Saving time

If you study for a Master’s in Business Management online, you’ll hear a lot about the importance of honesty in communications, and one of the major points that comes up again and again in discussion is how much time it saves. This is because when managers try to obfuscate, make excuses or blame their mistakes on other people, each stage of this represents a delay in identifying and solving the real problems that led to difficulty in the first place.

Cutting out those distracting behaviors means you can be much more efficient in addressing the real issues at hand. You’ll also find that you save time because your day-to-day focus is on the work itself rather than the impression you’re making – which, ironically, tends to improve that impression. You’ll be less likely to get out of your depth and better able to ask for help when you need it.

Improving teamwork

As a manager, it is important to keep in mind the distinction between yourself and the people you manage. You are not one of them, and pretending to be part of their group often ends up making everybody feel uncomfortable. This does not mean, however, that you can’t let them see that you are a human being. A bit of humility can go a long way. Instead of making you look weak, it demonstrates that you feel confident enough in your strengths to acknowledge that you’re not perfect.

Accepting that you are still on a learning journey can help you improve your managerial skills day to day, and it can also help workers who hope to move up into management themselves someday because they will more easily be able to imagine themselves in that situation. This is the beginning of mentorship, which always helps to strengthen a team. The more you understand about your own learning, the better you will become at teaching others.

Increasingly, business management courses are teaching their students that honesty is a winning strategy. It can help you to work more effectively in numerous ways, but it also has another benefit: studies have shown that honest people are much happier overall and enjoy lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

Knowing that you can be honest at work makes it much more relaxing and means you can look forward to doing what you’re good at each day without all the additional effort involved in deception or manipulation. You can be your true self at work, and when you are praised for what you achieve there, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that it really means something.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.