CVs, little white lies and leadership
Wednesday night saw Sir Alan Sugar say those two magic words ‘you’re hired’ to wannabe apprentice Lee McQueen.
I was delighted to see him win and I wasn’t surprised that his rough-around-the-edges persona appealed to former market trader, Sir Alan. ‘Get in there son!’ as Lee would say. I love it when the underdog wins through against the odds.
But, as regular viewers will know, Lee is a liar. A CV cheat. He told a fib about a stint at college and got exposed by one of Sir Alan’s aides last week. It caused quite a stir in the boardroom.
That Lee has gone on to win one of the most coveted jobs in Britain says a lot about the values of business and the low importance some leaders place on honesty. Or at least that’s what some people would have you believe.
I’m not so sure.
I suspect more people than you imagine have done exactly the same thing – maybe not in writing on their CV, where they are likely to be found out, but most certainly in interviews and day-to-day conversations with people.
Whether it’s to hide that embarrassing period of unemployment, to erase those months in your late teens when all you wanted to do was doss about, to eclipse a bad career move, or to enhance your contribution to a particularly high profile project, I think many of us would secretly confess to deploying such tactics from time to time. Overt lie or covert omission, it really makes little difference.
So I don’t think we should chastise Sir Alan for his choice. I think he did what most of us would have done in those circumstances – look at the skills, talents and overall character of the individual and put everything else to one side.
In my mind that ‘little white lie’ made Lee more real, more authentic, more like us. I wasn’t impressed by it, but I think i’d have given him the job too.