I dropped my daughter off at elementary school the other morning and had to do a double-take on a mother who was just coming out of the school. What made me look twice was her outfit.
She wore a very fitted designer t-shirt (huge logo on the front.) That wasn’t so bad…except that the length of her shirt exposed her entire mid-section. Combined with her low-rise jeans, she was exposing quite a bit of skin…to drop her children off at school.
I wondered immediately, what message is she trying to send? Is it about designer fashion? Fitness or weight? Wanting to be desired or praised by others?
I thought about her children, and I wondered if she thought of them when she got dressed.
I bet she doesn’t want them to get their confidence from wearing certain labels or from having a specific appearance, I thought. As a mother, I have to believe she wants more for them. I have to believe she wants them to be authentic and to be liked and valued for who they are; not what they look like or wear.
But weren’t her actions speaking louder? And weren’t they sending a conflicting message? How will her children understand what’s truly important?
Does this ever happen to you? Are your behaviors in alignment with your values?
Whether we are leaders in our homes or leaders in an organizational setting, we have to model behavior that is consistent with our values.
People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do. ~Lewis Cass
Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words. People see what you do, and if it doesn’t align with what you’ve said, then you’ve immediately lost their trust, their admiration, and their willingness to follow. And worst yet, your words have lost their meaning and value.
What effect would that have on your company? Your team? Your family?
As we lead, we must consider our priorities, beliefs and values. They cannot be swept under the rug. They must be lived.
What values does your company profess? Putting clients first? Treating fellow employees with respect? Being thrifty with spending?
What values do you uphold as a family? Kindness to others? Integrity? Always doing what’s right?
Take a few moments and think about your actions over the last week. Are you living out what you claim to hold important? It’s a tough question we should all challenge ourselves with. We are, after all, human. We can, so often, get distracted or derailed. What’s important, though, is that we recognize it, and then we commit to making the necessary changes to bring us back to the best of who we are.
Support what you say. Model your values. Let your actions do the speaking, because they’re what people hear anyway.
Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and is a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker. Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life.