3 Crucial Leadership Lessons in the Age of “Fake News”

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We are all familiar with the term “fake news.” We know it started at a specific time in 2016 during the US presidential election season and became a sort of official term on January 11, 2017, when Donald Trump, who had already been elected, denied Jim Costa, a reporter for CNN “, The answer to a question and amended,” You are fake news”.

The term may be recent, but the meaning of its definition is not. Fake news is a timeless attempt to defeat an opponent by slandering him with lies. This is done from the careful distribution of false information, unfounded rumors, and unconfirmed rumors in order to undermine the reputation and credibility of the opponent.

This strategy has been used throughout human history by a considerable number of people in positions of power or in the process of reaching it, whether in politics, wars or the corporate world.

However, due to modern technology (the internet, social media, computers and smartphones), fake news has become part of our lives. And with the experience of social, cognitive, and behavioral psychologists, fake news are made to be seen, heard and felt in the most realistic way possible within the limits of the lie itself.

As a result, tens of millions of users have proved incapable of distinguishing “fake news” from real facts. This is not only in politics, but also in health, finance, religion, and business.

Needless to say, this is a legitimate emergency. The courses of democracy, society, and economy can not be allowed to be guided by lies. So how do the leaders of the corporate world deal with an environment where fake news is allowed to thrive?

1. Leaders should promote a culture of truthfulness, responsibility, and wisdom.

In states more committed and of greater weakness (depression, anxiety, anger, shame, etc.), anyone can be seduced by the obscure urge to spread and believe rumors as a way to free their emotions, achieve some kind of unsuccessful claim or Distract people’s attention. In the workplace, these practices pollute the climate, damage relationships, and undermine performance.

This makes a culture-based incentive based on truthfulness, responsibility, and judgment crucial to business leaders. In this culture, people are grateful for honesty, transparency, hard work, teamwork and the kind of relationship that results from these actions. In addition, the inherent wisdom is developed to fight the temptation to lie to ourselves and others whenever we face challenging circumstances and goals.

In such an environment, professionals are also more likely to develop essential managerial skills, such as checking the fact, obtaining evidence, arguing in a logical and common sense, everything related to high performance, brand value and consumer loyalty.

2. Leaders should ensure that their team develops critical thinking as a core competency

Since humans believe in something, tilting in another direction is extremely difficult. We can blame human cognitive simplicity, which finds it easier to believe in something than to be skeptical of it. Or we can blame our discomfort with cognitive dissonance, which makes it painful for us to keep two conflicting thoughts at the same time.

It is also possible to blame the intense human habit of taking their point of view, seeking ways to reassert their beliefs when they are questioned even without evidence.

In order to increase human understanding on any subject, solve complex problems, and achieve challenging goals, it is necessary to have
the ability to transcend the aforementioned trends.

You have to learn to question yourself, your beliefs, your habits and your reality. This means developing the ability to double-check information, search for evidence, set personal biases aside, and put all of your findings to the test, based on logic and common sense.

To do this, leaders need to make sure that their teams are developing critical thinking skills such as:

– Understand the connections between ideas based on facts and logic;
– Identify errors and inconsistencies in reasoning;
– Address issues consistently and systematically;
– Reflect on the justifications of their assumptions, beliefs, and values;
– Design, articulate and evaluate arguments based on all the mentioned items.

This is the only way for companies to remain focused and efficient in a world bombarded with lies and so-called “alternative facts.”

3. Leaders should pay particular attention to young people

A 2016 Stanford University study showed that young people (especially high school and college students) are the most difficult to discern content sponsored by groups with certain interests or affected by political trends.

In addition, considering specific tests administered in the study, it was possible to conclude that these youngsters have trouble detecting obvious manipulations of crucial factors in the branches of science, history, and politics.

The internet, search services, computers, and smartphones have reshaped society. In theory, there is a lot of information available, new and better tools for working more efficiently and effectively.

However, these same tools have created a culture of immediacy and impatience that directly impede the development of a discipline in the workplace, attention to detail, and critical thinking skills needed to solve complex problems and achieve challenging goals.

By hiring young people, business leaders are not only hiring less experienced employees but also workers with a different world view, with strengths and weaknesses that need to be mapped and understood.

With this in mind, if the generations X and Y work together to help leverage the strengths and improve the weak, it will be possible to eradicate the fake news epidemic and the culture of immediacy before the Z and Alpha generations hit the market.

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By |2017-09-01T18:02:30+00:00May 10th, 2017|Career, Leadership, Skill Development|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Aimee September 9, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    One crucial area in every leadership skill is to be transparent as much as possible. For a manager to be well respected, he must be honest with his subordinates and discourage the spread of fake news in the workplace.
    I was under the supervision of a dishonest leader once, and honestly, I couldn’t handle the fake rumors he spread around. I believe he did that to improve his stature in the company. But it was unethical, so I had to leave.

    Also, I believe that in order to develop a competent environment, there should exist a trusting relationship between a leader and his subordinates. That’s why your second point is spot on. Skill development is achieved once you are able to openly sit down and discuss issues. In this way, you can be more efficient in solving problems and will eventually create a harmonious environment.

  2. Daniel Omwancha September 18, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Very interesting and insightful article I must say. The most profound communications revolution since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press seems to make it harder, not easier, to determine the truth. The digital revolution is characterized by a flood of information and misinformation that news consumers can access from anywhere at any time. This superabundance of information has made it imperative that citizens learn to judge the reliability of news reports and other sources of information that is passed along their social networks. It is rather profound that, rather than ushering in an era in which the average person can get facts and the truth about issues via the Internet, lies and false claims abound. And by the time a fact-checker has caught a lie, thousands more lies have been created. And when a lie is repeated enough times, psychologists argue, it is more likely to be believed. Even the most optimistic leaders among us are reminded almost daily that we live in a mixed up, messed up world. Indeed, that’s why Extreme Leadership skills are so vital–in our work, with our families, and in our communities. Our response in those storms defines our leadership style and gains us credibility.

  3. Vangeline September 19, 2017 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Here in our country, we also have someone in mind when it comes to ‘fake news’. Prominently known as “Mocha Uson Blog”, the writer has its own share of fanatics and bashers as well. With almost millions who follow the said account, I, for one, worry on the impact that it might cause for those who would believe in its published accounts. Thank you, LearningSimplify, for this article and for imparting us this learning! Articles such as this one are worthy to be shared and should have an extensive reach in the field of education and technology among the youth, more so, in my country’s generation.

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