The words we choose are important. The way we say those words matters too. Our words can absolutely influence other people.
But our actions always speak louder.
We can tell people what a good leader, manager, father, mother, or friend, or colleague should be, or we could show people through our behaviours.
We can wax lyrical about what a good artist should be, or we can show the world our art.
We can argue about which direction is right, or how a process should work, or what a good business should look like, or we could simply do the work and work it out – then show people. And adapt from there. There really is such a thing as too much planning.
We could tell people what behaviours we’d like for our company culture, or we could role model them and show people.
Our actions (behaviours) always speak louder than our words. When we say one thing but do something else, we send a clear message – and not a good one.
When we ask people to behave in a positive way and we do the opposite, we send a message. And trust me, people resent hypocrisy.
And of course, we shouldn’t hold people to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. We shouldn’t expect people to behave in ways we’re not prepared too as well.
The best way to lead is to set an example through your behaviours. The best way to become an artist is to create art. To be a musician we must make music. To build a business we must build it – not talk about how amazing it will be and what it will look like – we must do the work through our actions.
What you say is less important that what you do. Actions speak louder than words.
Behaviours, actions, results – they count way more than grand theories, ideas, arguments and self-promotion.
t’s why I’ve focussed my career on building two strong elements to my management and leadership service and style. The first is a relentless focus on communication behaviours – so that the words (and non-verbal) I choose have the right effect, and are congruent with my actions.
The second is a deep focus on behaviours, both mine and the people I work with. Behaviours matter. They help to make a business better, or move people into action, or set a bar to aim towards, or get things done, or create a caring environment. Behaviours, when added together across the sum of everyone in your company, is your company culture.
Behaviours are also your individual character.
John Wooden (the legendary basketball coach who I often refer to) said that we cannot do anything about our reputation, but we can control our character. What he’s referring to is that we can control our own behaviours and who we are, and then let the world come up with their own perception of us (reputation).
When we focus on our behaviours we build a solid core and we show people who we are. People will follow us (the definition of a leader) and they will trust us (because we show up consistently for them) and we will build a strong character.
Of course, we all slip from time to time. We all need help. We often have bad days. But it’s our job to develop the behaviours that serve us (and others) and build our character. And if we can support that with congruent communication skills – then all the better. You really, at this point, have an uber super power in the world of work – congruence between actions and words.