Promoting a culture of truth-telling

The Last Word


Stacie Boney

President, Hanson Dodge
Industry: Marketing/advertising

From her experience with a variety of businesses, Stacie Boney has found honesty is always the best policy. Truth-telling creates a more productive relationship, she says.

Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

“‘Telling truth to power.’ I learned this expression 10 years ago from Stephen Fischer, a dear industry colleague. But I’ve always inherently understood it. Even as a kid, I observed that people trusted you more if you told them the hard to say/hard to hear things that everyone else was avoiding. I suppose the old fable, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes,’ made a lasting impression on me!

“Partnering with clients for years, I’ve had a window into countless companies. The healthiest are those where leadership is modeling the behavior of having open, honest debate and telling each other the hard truths when it’s time to do so.

“It’s amazing what a little truth-telling will do. At my last agency, when an important, high-profile new account had a rocky start, I could feel the background chatter within both teams. No one on either side was speaking directly to the other about the issues. My ask of the client team? ‘Tell us what you say in the hallways after we leave, and we’ll do the same for you.’ The working relationship and trust took a quantum leap forward, and we went on to do award-winning, business-building work together.

“I’m Midwestern through and through. But I abhor the excuse of ‘Midwestern nice’ for not telling people what you can see and they can’t. Seeing it, but not telling someone that they are getting in their own way is cruel, not nice. Productively sharing hard-to-say truths is the kindest thing you can do for someone with whom you work.”

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