We all know people who say one thing and do another. The manager who says: ‘I believe in participation’ but fails to listen to people’s ideas and suggestions. Translation: ‘I don’t believe people have ideas or suggestions worth listening to.’ Or the manager who says ‘My team is first rate’ but constantly checks up on them and avoids delegating work. Translation: ‘I don’t trust my team so I need to keep an eye on them.’
Are those managers hypocrites? Maybe. I think there are three more likely reasons they say one thing and do another:
- They really do value participation or think their team is great but their core beliefs–their hearts, which guide their day-to-day actions, haven’t caught up with their heads yet.
- Participation and saying positive things about your team may be part of the organisation’s values and culture but they aren’t part of the manager’s values or core beliefs. So the manager gives lip service to the company talk, but but doesn’t walk it.
- A stronger value or belief overrides the manager’s weaker value of participation or belief their team is great. Maybe the organisation punishes mistakes and the manager values staying out of trouble more than trusting the team to do its work or come up with sound suggestions.
Whatever the reason, failing to walk your talk costs you credibility, trust and respect. The trouble is, people generally don’t know when their deeds aren’t matching their words. It’s the ‘blind spot’, and we all have them.
So what to do? Here are three ideas:
- When you trust the people you work with enough, you can ask them for some honest feedback.
- You can listen to your words and spend some time quietly reflecting on whether your actions match them.
- You can consider whether your own values match your organisation’s values and when they don’t, you can start polishing up your CV.
Walking your talk is an important part of integrity and authenticity. It gives your formal authority legitimacy, without which, your leadership is … well let’s be honest here … doomed.