So You Think You ‘Walk the Talk’

You may have rolled your eyes when you read the title to this article. I know I may have too if I hadn’t just experienced two senior leaders not ‘walk their own talk’ just last week. If some of the best-of-the-best leaders I am able to work with don’t consistently walk their own talk, the likelihood that most other ‘mere’ managers and leaders don’t either.

Let me share a few of the things I witnessed with the intent that you assess how well you walk your talk.

1 – You say you want to hear from everyone. You say on a regular basis you want to hear from everyone to ensure you are getting a well-rounded perspective, and that every employee, not just senior staff, understands each voice is important. That’s nice. Then why do you act as if you’re not listening? More often than not you:

  1. Arrive late and leave early from team meetings because you have other appointments conflicting with staff/team time.
  2. Interrupt team members as they try to share their ideas or updates with your own thoughts on a completely different topic.
  3. Focus on the conversations coming to you via your phone (i.e., text and emails), instead of the people in the room with you discussing issues you stated were important.
  4. Allow select members to repeatedly not share their opinions, ideas, concerns, and questions during team time, yet they have a history of raising valid concerns with you after the meetings.
  5. Forget what you agreed to in prior meetings with the team and therefore, cause the team to rehash already debated issues.

2 – You say you want to get to know your team members better. You’ve stated repeatedly that you’d like to break down the walls between the executive suite and the front line to create a more relaxed, informal environment within which you could get to know your team members better. This is terrific! Then why don’t you take some steps to get to know your team members a bit better? Currently, you don’t:

  1. Make yourself accessible to your team members. You’ve restricted your office hours or you’ve allowed yourself to be booked so tightly there is no time for team members to come to you for non-critical reasons.
  2. Introduce yourself to new team members, ask them about themselves, their ideas and challenges with their new positions, or explain how you would like to see them contribute going forward.
  3. Spend time talking with your team members about non-work topics: weekend activities, hobbies, vacations, etc.
  4. Eat meals with your team from time to time to enjoy some relaxed team time together.
  5. Greet your team members when you pass them in the hallways, ask how they’re doing, and find out what’s happening with their projects and how you can help them if they need you.

If some of the best of the best leaders don’t consistently walk their own talk, in all likelihood most other ‘mere’ managers and leaders don’t either. Do you?