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Leaders' Actions Speak Louder than Their Words - Kind or Unkind...

I have a favor to ask! Please stop what you are doing, shut your computer and put down your phone! Get a pen and paper, and write down your organization’s values!

Can’t do it without looking for the mission/vision/values statement on the intranet? I’m not surprised. Many people can’t. Next, take a few moments and think about how you are feeling about the way leaders (including yourself!) in your organization act. What they do and how they do it, especially in tough times. Now compare those actions to the organization’s stated values. Do they match? Or is here a disconnect…or perhaps even a wide gulf?

Often, stated values, and the reality of how people act, are very different. And that’s a problem. Especially if you are a leader, because “actions speak louder than words” and those you lead understand that the actions leaders take “show” the true values of the organization. Having words on a wall or on the intranet that say your organization values “respect for people”, “honesty and integrity” and “diversity” don’t matter if leaders’ actions don’t match. If you, as a leader, act unkindly yourself, or allow disrespectful behavior between those you lead, followers will "see" what the organization truly values.

What should you do, as a leader, if there’s a mismatch?

Point it out! To those who lead you, and those you lead! Make the mismatch visible so that actions can change to match the words. Draw up a list of behaviors that "show" the values...and those that don't. Then look for the behaviors that don't match, and ask the people to change them to the behaviors that do. And if those actions don’t change, and the values being acted out don’t match yours, please consider looking for a place where they do! Values shouldn’t be (and aren’t ) just words on a wall or the intranet, they are the way people act every day.

(You can learn more about this in Chapter 3 of The Kind Leader.)

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