Leadership Learnings: The Importance of Syncing your Audio with your Video

Of all the aspects of my current and past roles, the part that I love most is leadership.  Mind you, I continue to be far more a student than an expert, but it’s this that brings me the most fulfilment and challenge and it’s what feels most natural to me.  I think this is because I have always had a genuine fascination with people – I love observing them, trying to understand what’s behind their actions and what motivates them and I get a real buzz from supporting them through barriers and issues and helping them redefine themselves and succeed.  Joy.

Most of my learnings have come from a blend of:  Successes and wins  (through a mix of calculated risk taking, keeping up with the latest in my area of influence, good old teamwork and from the good faith of others in trusting my seemingly wacky ideas);  Mistakes a-plenty (I wear them proudly); Endless research and reading on topic and on developing self; and by observing others – identifying those golden “Must Dos” and those equally precious “Don’t Dos”.

So this series of posts, titled Leadership Learnings, is about is these observations – tips and tricks of what I see that works and what doesn’t in being a leader, starting with The Importance of Syncing Your Audio with your Video (I doff my hat to my good mate KW for this analogy – legend that he is) .

This could equally be titled “Practice What You Preach”,”The Importance of Role Modelling” or “Do as I do”.  It goes a little something like this:  If you expect people to behave a certain way, aspire to a vision, do things a particular way – you’ve gotta show them how it’s done.  Consistently.  There’s no point whatsoever or anything to be achieved from getting up on your high horse preaching values, behaviours and cultural reform if it’s not something you are prepared to do yourself.  Most people just don’t go there, because without creating an environment that is safe and secure, it is difficult for people to change, take a risk, go outside their comfort zones or achieve and, where this exists, many staff members often end up disliking their jobs and can’t wait to leave – often resulting in mass talent exodus.  Obviously this is far from ideal.

I’m sure all of us have experienced leaders who on one hand are aspirational, amazing, audacious and visionary, who implement a variety of culture change initiates to promote cultural reform  however on the other hand sabotage their own efforts by behaving in exactly opposite way than what they are promoting. These leaders expect certain standards from their staff and then seem to be more than comfortable (even have glee in) operating in a way that makes people uncomfortable and fearful, creating a quick-sand like environment, fault finding and taking every opportunity to discredit staff (sometimes publicly which is a major no-no).  Does this sound like the actions of someone advocating positive culture change to you? (Please don’t say yes).

The kicker in all of this is that these leaders’ words rarely match their actions.  In other words, their ‘Audio’ is out of sync with their ‘Video’.

People generally figure this out quickly and usually trust declines rapidly. Many faced with this situation often decide that it isn’t worth it and either move on or continue with what they know, while on the outside do the whole “smile, nod, pretend to be interested” thing. Survival.

The affirmation for me in all this is how important it is to ensure you actively demonstrate what you wish to occur.  If you are aiming for a good culture which is achievement focussed then it’s starts with you and you’ll find that’s it’s utterly contagious once you lead the way.  Good intentions alone, do not cut it.  Most people are willing to take a chance and try something new when they know it is safe, actively encouraged and role modelled from the top.  It’s about trust.  And when you have that, you can achieve anything.

Ending this post with one of my favourite all-time quotes from Gandhi as it’s so fitting and very, very true.

“Be The Change you Want to See In the World” 

Feel free to share your out of sync experiences here too….