I Follow What I See, Not What I Hear

This is the final post in the series to celebrate the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Secret. Although each of the SERVE practices are essential, today's topic may be the most critical of them all… If we want to build trust, credibility and ultimately followship, we must understand: people always watch the leader.
Leaders live in a fish bowl of sorts. Certainly, our words carry much weight, but our actions can undermine all we ever say. When our words and our actions align, it creates trust, confidence and credibility. When Ken Blanchard and I wrote The Secret, we said…

Great Leaders Embody the Values.tweet_bird

There’s something inside all of us that draws us towards leaders we feel are credible. If we deem him or her worthy of our trust, we may be willing to follow them.
The opposite is also true. Even if we resonate deeply with the cause or vision the leader is espousing, if we don’t see the leader as credible, we rarely choose to follow him or her.
Perhaps you can think of a leader who has chosen to say one thing and do another. He or she may say something is important, or valued, and not live as if they believe it themselves. For a leader to live out of alignment with our stated values is leadership suicide.
Here’s another, perhaps more sobering idea – you might think what I’ve just described is true when followers have a choice, such as a volunteer role. Followers ALWAYS have a choice. If you consider the men and women who work on your team, yes, they may be paid for their physical presence, even for the work of their hands, but you’ll never win their hearts if you don’t embody the values.
So, what can you and I do with this idea?
#1  Declare what’s important – What are your core values? Why would you want people to guess? There are three outcomes when people guess and two of them are negative. 1) They can guess wrong. 2) They can guess differently – which eliminates any chance of synergy 3) They may guess correctly. Why leave this to chance? Leadership is hard enough without adding unnecessary ambiguity. Four to six core values, well stated, could transform your culture and your leadership – if you’re willing to move to the next step...
#2  Live like you believe it – I know this sounds simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Golf is a simple game, yet extremely difficult to play well. Start with the values you articulated in step one; look at your calendar for the last 30 days – is there enough evidence during the previous month to prove you are attempting to live out those values? Let me give you a very simple example. If one of your values is customer-focused, how much time have you invested with customers? Or, has your time been consumed with talks about strategy and budgets?
#3  Ask for help – Talk with those closest to you – your direct reports, your assistant, your coach, or your spouse, anyone who cares enough to tell you the truth. Ask them to let you know when they see you either act in a fashion that sends mixed signals regarding your values or when you’re observed missing an opportunity to live out your values.
I’ll close with a blinding flash of the obvious – leaders aren’t perfect. The good news is our people already know this. Perfection is not the standard we’re held to - diligence is. If we’ll consistently strive for the alignment between our talk and our walk, people will be motivated, if not inspired, to follow our lead.[GLS_Shield]


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