Ron, TMP supervisor for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 5B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In the fall of 1980 my wife and I visited her grandmother, who was in the hospital. When we got there, a male nurse wheeled one of the elderly patients over to a window where the sun was shining. I thought, 'Oh, that's kind of nice.' He then brought another elderly lady to the washroom. After a short visit, we left to go for lunch.
When we returned to the hospital almost two hours later for an afternoon visit, the same elderly lady was hunched over and still sitting in the hot sun. I found this odd. I was slightly concerned and carefully moved her wheelchair out of the sun.
As we walked into the hospital room, we heard the same lady who had been put in the washroom earlier crying to get off the toilet. I became very frustrated. At the same time, another elderly Italian lady who could not speak English was trying to talk to the male nurse who had his back to me. He was making fun of the Italian lady by babbling out loud words like, 'Blah, blah, and blah.' Boy was I mad! When the nurse turned around, he found me staring directly into his eyes. My wife later told me that if looks could kill, the army would have adopted my angry stare. I'm sure the nurse felt my stare burn right through him. I did not speak a word. Within a fraction of
a second, the nurse shut up and tended to the Italian lady, then immediately proceeded to take care of the lady in the washroom and the lady by the window who he had left in the hot afternoon sun.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that my actions can speak louder than words. When I put my actions into gear, stand up for standards, my actions can help others secure the professional, humane treatment we are all entitled to. I also learned at a deep level that day that to be an effective leader and a mature adult, it is essential that I take control of my emotions.
The action I call you to take is to take control of your emotions and don't be afraid to step in to do the right thing in the defense of others, and do it the right way. The benefit you will gain is personal satisfaction and self-confidence, knowing you have the courage to stand up for standards."
Continued research shows that less than 20% of our message is communicated by the words we use. What we do and how we do it can and does speak louder than words. How are you ensuring that your actions are consistently aligned with your words to ensure your message has the greatest possible impact?