Leaders Must Walk The Talk




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"To walk the talk" means to act on your words without fail.

Failure to act on what were said invites negative expressions such as:

  • He (she) is just making a lot of noise.
  • He (she) is an empty drum.
  • He (she) is making empty promises.
  • It's all wind.
  • No action, talk only (NATO)

Demonstrating the 'Walk the Talk'
This example may well illustrate this.

You have two workers. During one fine day you tell one worker to perform a certain task while inquiring whether he or she is able to carry it out. You get an enthusiastic reply that the worker knows how carry out the task. He further tells you that you need not have any worry at all. He will finish the assignment within no time.

Upon checking a couple of days later, you find that the worker has not even made a start. He is happily chatting away on his mobile phone.

You had instructed the other worker to carry out another assignment. Despite not making any promise, that other worker finishes the assigned task well within time. This worker has walked the talk.

Other Expressions that Convey Similar Meanings
These expressions include:

  • Practice what you preach.
  • Action speaks louder than words.
  • Never say what you don't mean.
  • Mean what you say and only say what you mean.

Such expressions are intended to discourage boasting or bragging. They are intended to urge people to act, to carry out what they are supposed to do or what they have promised to do.

Applying the 'Walk the Talk' in Management

When management fails to fulfill what it said it will, employees begin to form distrust of the management team. From then on many of your workers will doubt most, if not all, of your proposed plans.

Managers need to ensure what they say they do what they say they will do. Trust between management and staff is essential in order to ensure all tasks and responsibilities are performed without fail. If you lose trust of your people, it is not easy to get it back. As a manager, you need to demonstrate to your subordinates that you are trustworthy. Then they will carry out what they are supposed to do.

If and when you trust your people, they will respond likewise. Trust and being valued for what they are and their abilities are very important to people. To them, this is more valuable than money.

Money will not last but self-esteem does. Money motivates but trust motivates more.

Keep this mind especially when you are an HR person or a line manager.

Keep in Mind
If you are manager or in some position of leadership, walk the talk. Follow up on your words as soon as possible. Do not put off doing something about it. Failure to do this weakens your position as a manager or leader. People will slowly but surely lose their belief in you. It makes your work harder as a manager.

Do not say things you know you cannot keep. Keep in mind that someone somewhere may hear what you say. If it is constructive and you act on it, it is fine. If it is negative, it may destroy hope, trust, and sometimes even life itself.

It is wise to keep in mind to say only things that build channels of communication, to mend broken bridges, to strengthen relationships, and to motivate people to work better individually and in teams. People will wait what you will do in pursuance to what you have said. And then they will act accordingly.

As long as you hold a position of authority, walk the talk. Do not let any word escape your mouth unless you are capable, willing, and ready to back it up with concrete actions. Show others that you mean what you say and you say what you mean.

Application in Daily Life
Following this principle in daily life, in whatever you, will encourage people to trust you more. They will know that you are a man - or a woman - of your word.

It makes it easier for you if you become a leader. You can accomplish more with more people who are willing or ready to cooperate with you. Some may dislike you for being truthful since they see you as a threat. Ignore these people.



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