They are watching you!
I grew up with the idea that your words matter. I was taught to be a man of my word, and that the things I say can either build people up or tear them down. I did not always see this modeled around me except in my Mother, who often took time to teach me how to live with honesty and integrity, and quietly modeled it for me and my brothers to see.
In today’s world, it often seems you can do and say whatever you want as long as you are seen as meaning well, having a higher goal, or can apologize afterward. BUT words do matter, and the reputation you build is the one you have to live with. Word power varies depending on who is speaking and that persons’ reputation.
Here are some ways you can work to align your words with your actions.
Be slow to speak and keep your cool – It seems ridiculous that this even has to be said - yelling at employees de-motivates them and never accomplishes the real goal. Saying that you value your team, and then yelling at them, will never work.
Listen more than you talk – Your team has a lot to offer you if you will only listen. Train yourself to ask, “What do you think?” before automatically giving an answer. This action shows that you value your team and will empower your employees to lead with confidence, and eventually stop asking you so many questions. Everyone wins!
Only say things you would want the entire world to hear – You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so always think carefully about what you say. In a world where news travels instantly and globally to the thousands hungry for content, your private whisper or even a simple post on your blog, can end up on CNN 24 hours later, so make very sure you’re certain about what you want to say before you say it.
Hold yourself Accountable – We all need the input of others we respect who can candidly
remind us when we get off track. Ask a trusted friend to give you candid feedback. You need the kind of honest input your employees will not give you.
Let your Words be your Guide – Too many companies hang their Mission and Vision Statement on the wall and then leave it behind. When taking a course of action, ask yourself, “Does this match the words on our banners?”, and only do things that will live out what you SAY you are all about.
We have plenty of examples of people who are found out to be something other than what they presented themselves to be, people like cyclist Lance Armstrong, golfer Tiger Woods, former Presidential candidate John Edwards, former CIA Director David Petraeus, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, and former Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, and Rod Blagojevich.
People are watching you, too. Your actions speak louder than words. Walk your talk!
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