leadership, Toby Elwin, blog

What can a 5-year-old teach you about leadership?

5 year old, leadership, toby elwin, blog

When an organization’s words do not match action, who is to blame?

How many companies have you seen or worked with that have literature, speeches, employee handbooks, or marketing that just does not match the actions or culture inside the organization?

Ever been around a company with printed materials that talk of putting people first, but do not provide flexible schedules or project opportunity for staff development? Ever been around a company committed to diversity as long as no one offers a contrarian view?

Hand in Hand

What does a child of 5, or even 2, do when a parent does not follow through? They ignore you. They break you down with tantrums or arguments and do as they see fit without fear of your follow through.

People, at every age, are insightful, quick to see words not followed with action or commitment are hot air. Organizations who hang core value posters without backing up all aspects of those values risk an organization that tunes out and turns off.

Who is to blame for the company that promotes teamwork, but does not allow an environment of dialogue? Organizations are social networks. They take their cue from the organization leaders. Leadership without follow-through will impact values, behaviors, and norms more then any print propaganda or speech.

If your leader does not ask for input or marginalize employee contribution what behavior is the organization likely to model? When the organization heaps praise on the rainmaker and the superstar that act outside the values, a wedge is further driven between rhetoric and reality.

ROI – Involvement is the Investment

A leader invests in people and there must shift thinking of ROI:  from Return on Investment to Return on Involvement.  If Return on Involvement reveals itself as an overwhelming failure, do you just search for a new, pithy slogan?

It is not easy to turn posters and marketing into professional deeds, but anyone in the organization can lead by example. You can call out your organization values in your daily work, in meetings, and with customers. You can contribute to organization integrity when organization values are at the forefront.

Perhaps leaders take note, perhaps not.

Leader is a title:  a noun.

Leading is an action:  a verb.

The noun without the verb is an empty title.  The action defines the title, not the other way around.  Leadership requires that the noun exhibit the verb, or, said, a whole lot better:  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I promise I will never to quote Gandhi again…

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