During the leadership development training I conduct, people often share the clearest perspective on great leadership. They also come up with some of the biggest problems leaders create for themselves. One person brought up the critical issue of leadership credibility. In short, why is it important for leaders to walk the talk? And what happens when they do?
Walk the Talk: How’s Your Leadership Credibility?
Ray, a city administrator in Arkansas, addressed his comments directly to the issue of leadership credibility.
“Phil, leaders who don’t ‘walk the talk’ and who don’t consistently behave with honesty and integrity create major problems for themselves. Leaders who say the organization should behave in a particular way, but who (themselves) behave contrarily, immediately lose their credibility.”
Okay, how can anyone possibly argue with Ray’s reasoning?
If leaders don’t uphold the same — or higher — level of accountability as their employees, can they really think those employees will respect them enough to follow their lead?
Seems like the logical answer is “no.” But let’s face reality.
Beware the Double Standard
Often “established” leaders allow themselves to become unfocused … lackadaisical … even lazy … in their professional actions and activities. We could probably consider dozens of examples. But I’ll offer just three to get you thinking.
- As a leader, have you ever set a firm deadline that you expected someone else to meet? But then you offered nothing but excuses when you didn’t make good on a commitment you had made?
- As a leader, have you ever criticized someone for being unable to control their emotions, especially their temper? But in a pressure-packed moment, you lost your temper publicly — without regret or apology?
- Finally, as a leader, have you ever encouraged someone else to be open to change? But complained bitterly when you were asked or expected to change?
I’m with Ray. In order to earn leadership credibility, leaders must commit to “walk the talk.” When they do, good things happen.
A leader who walks the talk is the one with leadership credibility. When a leader is willing to be held accountable, trust thrives between the leader, employees and team members. And studies show a high trust culture positively impacts performance and productivity.
From an earlier post, here are three practical ways leaders can walk the talk, build trust and grow performance.
Take responsibility and share recognition.
Communicate with employees.
- Share feelings instead of showing them.
When leaders hold themselves to a higher level of accountability, they set the performance standard. And this gives employees a clear perspective of what is expected of them.
So I’ll ask the question again: How’s your leadership credibility?
Can we help your leaders “walk the talk”? You bet! Let’s talk now!
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