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Why You Need to Walk Your Talk As a Business Leader
Walking your talk is the best way to gain the trust and commitment of your employees. Knowing the way forward is not enough. Leaders have to walk the path and show others how to do it. Mature leaders understand that leading by example is the only way to inspire and motivate employees to join them on the journey of success.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell.
In my leadership coaching books and blog posts, I have always pointed out two special ingredients of the intelligent leadership cocktail: trust and alignment.
- There can be no leadership without trust. You may be able to boss around some people through clout alone. But without trust, you will never be a leader.
- To be genuine and trust-inspiring, leaders should align their values and purpose with the cause they preach. Without this alignment, it is impossible for a business leader to credibly walk the talk.
Trust is a basic building block of leadership.
Walking the talk is the only genuine way a leader can build lasting trust and inspire followers. How do you walk the talk? What does it take to lead by example?
Align Your Policies with Your Core Values
Preaching one thing and doing something different is the shortest path to discrediting yourself as a leader. Beyond tarnishing your image and losing your influence, by displaying such an attitude, you create a toxic organizational culture.
It’s easier to convince your reports to buy into an idea if you believe in it. In addition to aligning your policies with your values, you should ensure that they reflect the values and purpose of your organization.
Clarify the purpose of your company and communicate it to your employees frequently. Make sure they see and understand how your policies and proposed changes fit the values of your organization.
Define Clearly the Changes You Want to See
To provide relevant context for your ideas, define them clearly, ensuring that your employees understand what you expect from them throughout the implementation.
Identify misaligned employee behavior and address it in line with your expectations and company culture. Ensure that you gain an accurate picture of the problem before you act, or you may risk treating symptoms instead of causes.
Be the Change You Want to Implement
As pop legend Michael Jackson put it: if you want to change, start with the man in the mirror.
As a leader, you have some degree of influence on the behavior of other people. But you have control over your behavior. Adopt the changes you want to implement, turn them into daily habits, and model them.
Champion change by fully embracing it.
Understand that effecting lasting change by shaping habits is a tedious and long-term undertaking.
Be Consistent in Your Behavior and Policies
Leadership coaching preaches that predictability and consistency are the virtues of intelligent leaders.
You can only ensure lasting alignment through consistent corporate and personal values. If you change your mind about the pillars on which your organization rests, the whole edifice will collapse.
What happens if you slip up and fail to walk the talk? How can you restore the trust of your employees and rebuild your leadership?
Be Mature and Own Up to Your Mistakes
Executive coaching values leadership maturity more than anything else. A mature leader can rise above unpleasant situations and see the bigger picture. From a mature perspective, failures are stepping stones, and mistakes are nuisances that can happen to anyone.
Mature leaders do not hide from their mistakes, leaving the troops to handle the fallout.
Recognize that you were wrong but make no excuses. Apologize. Make sure you do it sincerely.
The admission of your mistakes is not an admission of defeat.
Ask for Support
Having admitted your mistakes, make your intentions clear by requesting support to right the wrongs. Commit to walking the talk and ask your reports to help you do so.
Draw Up a Plan
Talk is cheap. The best way to prove that you are ready to walk the talk is to take action. Your role is to make your employees want to create the future with you and not blindly follow you into your next adventure.
Executive coaching can help you iron out kinks in your character and leadership competencies that may cause you to not walk your talk.
Check out my books to learn more about how executive coaching and business coaching can help you become a better leader.