Yes…PREACH WHAT YOU PRACTICE, that is how that should read. Here is the thing, most people are great at doling out advice to others. The question is, how good are they about following their own advice? That is where the rubber meets the proverbial road…
Although I am not perfect by any measure, but I TRY to lead by example. As a coach and a sales professional, and of course my personal life, I work hard to never compromise my ethics. There have been plenty of opportunities, and some harder to resist than others. While I don’t I have a perfect track record, I can at least say that I am proud for doing my best as often as possible. When I was single, I was REALLY single. I made it clear that I didn’t want a relationship, and I was up front about that from the start. While this is not an easy conversation to have, I learned through that process that honesty truly is the best policy. I’ve had a few drinks thrown in my face for making such a blatant statement, and of course had women catch feelings three weeks after our first date, despite being warned that I would not. But the ones who understood and accepted the deal I was offering, things were great in the time we spent together. When the time came, we parted ways and went on with our lives. No hard feelings, and more importantly, no regrets. That is how I sleep at night. When I share this advice to others, I have experienced it myself, and I know that it is the best approach in most cases.
As a coach, I HAVE TO lead by example. There is no other way I could live with myself if I set a bad example as the leader of the team. As a player, I fell short on this too often for my liking. But I tried to learn from that and make sure that I don’t allow anyone on my team to make those same errors. Whether it is dealing with my own players or others that we compete against, I work hard to lead by example and handle each situation as well as possible. In my day job I work in sales, which of course is riddled with chances to take moral shortcuts. I pride myself on being the opposite of a “typical” sales person, operating under the context of transparency and honesty. My job is to educate the consumer about my company’s services, s they can make the best choice for them. I believe in most cases we do have the best option, but not always. And I am proud to say that there have been times where I have made the statement: “I don’t think we have the best option for you.” In some cases, the deals were quite large, but I didn’t let that sway my decision. The right course of action is not predicated on the amount of money to be made.
If you are in a position of leadership, you have to lead by example. You cannot expect people, whether above or below you on the food chain, to respect you if you talk out of both sides of your mouth. The fastest way to get dissension in the ranks is to make people around you feel like you would say one thing and do another. This leads to mistrust in a big hurry, and an effect team environment is built on trust. You will not be able to manage people if they do not feel safe in your charge, and safety comes from the trust you build with your words and maybe more importantly your actions.
What I encourage you and others to do is to lead by example. Preach what you practice; let your actions SHOW that you are backing up what you are saying. Before you ever start pushing advice on someone else, be sure you are living the words you espouse. If you are saying one thing and doing another, you are a hypocrite, plain and simple. It would be the equivalent of being a fat personal trainer, giving people advice on what to eat and how to work out, but clearly you do not follow your own rules.
Walk the walk…and people will follow.