As leaders, you are watched 24/7 by those who work for you. The employer/employee relationship has similarities to the parent/child relationship in the way that kids learn from what they see you do more than what they hear you say. For example if you tell your kids that lying is wrong, and then they see you tell a friend a lie (even if it’s just a little white lie or not quite the complete truth), what lesson do you think your kids have learned from you? Perhaps “do what I say, not what I do?”
In the same way, if you have culture statements posted throughout your company and you do not follow them yourself or enforce them with others, what message does that send your employees? For example, if one of your company’s core values is respect, and you observe one of your top performers berating one of their peers or direct reports, do you step in to correct their behavior and remind them that the core value of respect applies internally as well as externally? Or do you allow them to continue to behave in a way that is not aligned with your core values just because they bring in a lot of revenue and you are concerned about upsetting them or losing them?
If one of your core values is creating an atmosphere where your employees can have a healthy life-balance, and then you email or text them at all hours of the day or night demanding a quick response, what message are you sending? Or if you are constantly checking in while you are on “vacation”, are you setting a good example of healthy life-balance for your team?
In the coming weeks, give some thought to the core values you have established for your business. How strongly do you believe in them? As Vistage speaker and author David Friedman suggests, defining those core values as fundamental behaviors can help everyone in your company gain a clear idea of how to live out those core values in their day to day lives. Take some time to revisit them with your team and recognize those employees who exemplify them. Most importantly, as the leader, make sure you set a good example.