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Do As I Say and Not As I Do...

"Do as I say and not as I do."

It was one of my parents' favorite responses to my persistent and insubordinate questions about smoking, drinking, cursing and other teenage experiments they did not approve of.

The fact that they did those very same things I was prohibited from doing was a constant source of contention. They would say "do as I say and not as I do." I would smart-aleck back "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."

We went round and round. Fundamentally, I was right. Not right in the disrespect I showed for their parental authority. Not right for being rebellious just for the sake of being rebellious. And not right for making choices I knew were not in my best interest.

I was correct, though, in understanding that actions speak louder than words. I pushed back where my parents were most vulnerable, in doing those things that they did not have high credibility in telling me not to do.

The same sort of thing happens in the workplace. Sometimes, leaders inadvertently do one thing and then expect others to do something different. For example, they espouse the corporate values but do not act in accord with them.

Mixed messages are dangerous. They do more then confuse people. They set leaders up to be discredited.

For example, when a company purports to value their people and to honor work/life balance but then expects people ("their most valued resources") to work long hours with no reward, that company value is disproven and trust is breached.

Leaders must diligently protect their credibility and make sure their actions back up their words. If you believe what you say is true, your own actions will reflect that belief.

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