Christine wanted to encourage her team’s work/life balance, so she kept telling her team members to not work too late, but instead go home at the end of the working day and spend time with friends, family and on hobbies. The team members were really pleased, they had a very positive reaction to this message and responded by leaving the office shortly after 5 most days.
However, after about a week, they noticed that they had received late evening emails from Christine almost every day. This confused them, as her actions didn’t match what she was saying. Why is she working late while telling us not to? She’s clearly not meaning that we should go home at five. So what else is she meaning or not meaning? Can I trust her?
To top it all off, Christine decided to reward a couple of people who had been working all hours on a project, late at night and into the weekends. Now the team members were really confused.
This short story from ‘The Leader’s Guide to Impact’ (FT Publishing 2019) highlights how easily good intentions become confusing platitudes if not also role modeled. The old expression “walk the talk” still rings true.
Ultimately, people don’t do what we say, they will do what we do. Leadership is contagious.
And as leadership is the act and art of influencing, we are all leaders.