Actions and Words

Leading the way Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

“We need to pull out of the stops for this one. These changes have got to be put in place before the end of the year. Otherwise we’re out of compliance and our customers cannot do business. I know it won’t be easy and there will be a lot of long hours in the coming weeks but I know we can do this. So let’s get cracking.”

That’s what one VP of IS said to his team just before leaving the office for the day at 4:30pm. True story. I was there. All that was missing was the “Rah, rah, rah” at the end just before the door closed behind him.

His pep talk wasn’t the best I’ve heard but he did get his point across. This was important to our customers and we needed to pull together as a team to help them. He gave us the vision and helped us understand why our task was important.

But his actions spoke far louder than his words. Scurrying out the door before it hit his backside undermined everything that he’d said in the moments before.

It’s been said that only 7% of communications are the words used. The remaining 93% of the message comes from other cues – tone of voice and body language being two of the prominent factors.

For leaders, I’d add “other actions” in the mix as well. You could even call it character. When your day to day actions are inconsistent with what you profess, your team will believe your actions before they believe what you say.

As John Maxwell put it “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

I’m not saying that this VP of IS should have stayed to help with the project. In fact, doing so may have hampered our efforts. However, the team had grown weary and skeptical of him due to a pattern of actions that were at odds with his words.

Are you words and deeds saying the same thing? Or are they out of sync?

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