Perpetuating Myths

In the latest Annual Shareholders’ meeting for Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett and Munger came together to trot out their wisdom for the shareholders and the world as usual. One of the point that came out was about CEOs or leaders in general – but I think more broadly, it is a warning about the narratives or messages that are crafted for the public.

And of course, so they go on every couple of months, and they repeat certain things about their company, and it becomes part of, sort of the catechism. And nobody’s going to go on two months after the CEO has said one thing and say, ‘Well, actually, that really isn’t the way.’ They’re not going to contradict themselves or change course.”

Warren Buffett, 2021 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting

There are many organisations, not just companies that constantly bellow messages about themselves they want others to believe. The Berkshire Chairman is warning us against the danger of crafting myths that will get perpetuated. Leaders who defines goals for their organisation but do not take time to understand the truth about it will end up being cornered by journalists or media somehow blurt out something positive and aspirational but simply not a reflection of where the company is at.

The company and its staff will then be forced to window-dress the firm to align with what was spoken rather than focusing on the core value-drivers. So if you’re a middle-manager, or more junior, how are you going to respond to your bosses’ myths. How can we confront them gently and guide the organisation back to truth and its core?