The first role of the leader is to develop and maintain clarity of purpose in an organization. That clarity is required no matter the ease or difficulty of the environment or business climate. With clarity must come truth, no matter how difficult it is to accept. Strategic planning is only as sound as the leaders’ willingness to accept truth. Truth over ideology; unemotional challenging and validation of assumptions.

For all leaders, this means finding the best planners and following the truth, rather than your public affairs or your media team crafting a fictional narrative and trying to sell it. At some point, you have to cease trying to fool people when evidence shows the contrary. This is exactly how the financial crisis left countless people destitute and without retirement savings. This is how family businesses fail when the leader refuses to accept that the evidence before him more is than just a run of bad luck. G.K. Chesterton said, ” Mystics believe unproved doctrines; practical men believe disproved doctrines.” This is what happens when leaders confuse short-term downturns with long-tern demographic and economic changes which irrevocably alter the landscape.

For example, when the US Defense Department cries for years that any cuts in defense budgets will mean an unsafe nation, what that really shows is that they cannot prioritize what is important. Or in another sphere, pretending that someone’s aggressive moves are not aggressive because you have no response does not lessen the aggression. There is no magic pixie dust to make the difficult issues go away.  Pretending they don’t exist won’t make them disappear. Here are a couple of articles from months ago; see how people fool themselves to the detriment of their organizations. What has happened since? How would you relate this to your own business situation?