Original article published by The Guinea Group
Why do some leaders still not understand that team members don’t listen as much as they watch? Why don’t leaders realize that they are always on the show? They are being analyzed for how to behave and their example is the most important thing that they have. To influence others.
We had a client that was big on ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Seriously. Their belief was that it was ok to say one thing and do another. This is ok if you want your team to be totally confused about the standards you are trying to maintain.
We have used this story as a case study in the past, as this leader went from being incongruent (saying one thing and doing another) to really understanding what it takes to lead by example.
Team members are watching you all the time
This leader didn’t get the importance of the behavior that she was exhibiting. There was a lack of understanding from this leader, that team members directly reflect the example of their leader. It was not until we were unpacking specific examples of team behaviors, that it became clear just how much impact her example was having on the team … massive learning.
And, when leaders get this message (emotionally, I mean – like feel it), they can be clear on the standards that they are setting. Which might be lower than they are trying to set. There is nothing like a deep understanding of ‘behavioral impact’ to help you out of incongruency.
What you walk past you condone
This was another area we worked on. Being willing to clearly (now) set an expectation and stick to it. And hold others accountable. It is difficult to turn the incongruency ship around, but not impossible. It takes effort, and it takes honesty. And it takes being willing to call out behavior that is not aligned with the right values or standards.
The challenge is that team standards drop to the lowest level demonstrated by one team member. And it is about having caring conversations (not robust conversations) that unpack why a certain type of behavior is inappropriate. Especially when it comes to attaining and maintaining psychological safety.
Don’t do something that you don’t want your team to do
It’s actually pretty simple.
And at the end of the day, it is about integrity. The opposite of incongruence. When you say you are going to do something … do it. Follow through. That is integrity. Aka, the most important leadership character trait, according to most team members.