“Sincerity makes the very least person
to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite.”
“Go put your creed into your deed”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s a good divine that follows his own instructions”
A few weeks ago, I was in my car driving to a client meeting. I was traveling through Milwaukee on surface streets through an area where the speed limit was 40 miles per hour. About the midpoint of my drive, I looked into my rear view mirror and saw a small car quickly approaching. The car passed me going about 10 miles per hour faster than I was driving (I was going the speed limit…really). As the car passed me in the left lane, I saw a sign on the rear of the car that said “Student Driver”.
At the next stop light I caught up to the car and saw it contained one adult, presumably the instructor, perhaps late for his next driving lesson. Most times cars labeled as such are the ones I’m passing as they trundle along in the right lane. Usually there is a student driver behind the wheel and at least one more in the back seat. Normally there is an instructor in the front passenger seat providing guidance to the driver as they navigate traffic and learn to obey the rules of the road. This particular driving instructor appeared to be exhibiting an inconsistency between his behavior and the behavior I presumed he requires from his pupils to obey the speed limit. I had to wonder what his students might say if they saw him zip through traffic in the way he did that day.
Not Sound Bites, but Actions
It’s impractical to expect others to follow rules and guidelines that you won’t obey. In ignoring rules, others will assume you do not believe they are important and they will begin to see them as unimportant as well. Leaders, managers and mentors earn respect through their behavior. They can also lose the respect of others and lose credibility through their lack of appropriate behaviors including those behaviors they require from others but do not exhibit themselves. Inconsistencies such as these also become evident to employees in statements made by leaders when they make promises they don’t or can’t keep.
Recently I saw a webinar titled, “How to Talk and Look Like a Leader”. It contained some wonderful insights and instruction on leading. However, I took issue with the title because, at its core, leadership isn’t about words and appearances; it’s about actions and interactions. Employees will embrace a leader they can trust, who isn’t afraid to roll his or her sleeves up and get dirty and who holds themselves accountable to others and to the same expectations as everyone else. A good leader is one who doesn’t rely solely on appearances or lofty statements and promises to motivate others but leads through their actions.
It was Voltaire who originally said, “With great power comes great responsibility” (sorry Spiderman fans, it wasn’t Uncle Ben or Stan Lee). The important thing to remember about good leadership is a good leader is a responsible one. Simply put, they say what they mean and they mean what they say. Do you?
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for your blessings and be blessings to others and they will be thankful.
Here to serve,
Next month: Looking Ahead to 2014