Fundamental of the Week #21: Lead By Example

The best way to influence others is “being the change you want to see.” Bring a calming presence. Help others shine.

Like so many other parents I’ve talked to, I have been delighted to see our two girls grow up and possess many of the values and qualities we had endeavored to instill in them as children. During those learning years I was pretty sure what they heard from those lessons was “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” I realized that what we modeled was far more powerful than any wisdom I thought I had spoken.

I once read “Integrity is having your actions match your speaking.” In our efforts to help companies build performance into their culture, we have repeatedly cautioned leaders “be careful, you get what you tolerate” and that their people’s behavior will be consistent with how they train them; and they train them with what they model. If you think about it, so much of our learning is by watching others. It starts very early for us, watching those who raised us. Learning what would earn us praise and what would get us in trouble. Joining a new organization, we pay attention to what people do, we listen to what they say and see if their behavior matches it, and we begin to learn what will earn us praise around here and what will get us in trouble. Then slowly, we bring those behaviors into our own way of behaving.

There are a couple of books that have a very powerful message for me; one is “Love Without Conditions” by Paul Ferrini along with don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements.”  Over the past few years, I have read them repeatedly, a few pages a day, pretty much every day. I have found that the steady repetition of those words has slowly infused my thinking, my behavior, and how I see the world. I have watched with delight as my “quick to judge” mechanism has gently modified over this time. Model what you want to be, model what you want to see, consistently, and watch people pick up your pace naturally.

Organizations that create their own intentional culture day in and day out, with their leaders speaking and modeling the behaviors and actions consistent with that culture will reap the benefits over time.

Craig Clark
Founder and CEO,
Momentum Consulting, Inc