The truth is the first thing to go

When you go from being powerless

To powerful

Even the small shift from being 3 guys/gals in a garage

To a funded company with 10 employees

You are a despot who controls their destiny

The CEO becomes the last to know

“Truth decay”

is a force like entropy

That infects all organizations, especially those that succeed

The more you succeed

The more blind the leader becomes

Underlings trend toward supplication

Especially amongst people at the bottom, once or twice removed in the hierarchy

It starts in subtle ways

The CEO walks in the room and people hush up

Employees secretly know X is stupid

But they think the CEO knows about X’s issues and wants it anyway

When in reality the CEO may not even know that X exists

A bubble of fluff begins to form around the CEO

Few leaders want people to lie to them

None of the good ones do, at least

But like entropy, the truth decays

The more power, the more success you have

The more the team grows

The more layers there are between you & the people doing the real work

The more it happens

It’s happened to me before

It was shocking to see

How was this possible?

Our team was only 12 people

Months before, I was just a dude with a dream & a couple co-founders

It didn’t make sense

Later, I realized

The only way to fight truth decay

Is to accept that it is real

Like entropy

And apply energy to the system

To FIGHT it

Fight the bubble of lies & half truths that people want to tell you

Create the conditions for honesty

Demand the truth

Make it safe

Apply energy to the system

Create an emotional & professional safe space for employees

Especially for the weakest & most vulnerable amongst you

Especially for the people at the bottom of your organization

ASK the people doing the real work what they think

“Do you really believe what you’re saying?”

“What are we doing wrong?”

“What are we doing that is stupid?”

“What are you afraid to say?”

Look for hesitancy

Pay attention to body language

Press for detail

Assume that, on some level, you’re being lied to

As a leader, truth decay is my greatest fear

It is why “speak truth to power” is our #1 company value

It is why we look for people who speak the truth

Even when it might make them look stupid

Especially when it costs them something

As a leader, I cannot control the market

I cannot even really influence it

But I can control the amount of truth that gets spoken inside the organization

Ultimately, I am responsible for our collective success

And I know of no better, more reliable path to success

Yet, despite my grand pronouncements & best intentions

I still don’t like it when you call my baby ugly

I am human

Fallible

Egotistical

An idiot sometimes

We all are

But I try

When I fail on this, I try to acknowledge it & recover quickly

As we grow, I know that my failures will influence the company

Which is scary

Because at 38 years old, I am still a work in progress

And our culture of truth but an infant

That will not survive if I neglect it

If you are a leader of humans

You’re not special

This applies to you

I promise

from a Twitter thread on October 24, 2019