So many people don’t get it. It’s not the talk, it’s the walk. Again and again we see the consequences of bad walk after good talk. And yet, so many in leadership positions still don’t get it.
Most recently it was President Obama. He gave a strong, determined, serious press conference about the beheading of journalist James Foley. Those in attendance treated the news and the press conference with the anger and seriousness it deserved. It seemed Obama did the same.
Next thing you know, he’s off playing golf and pictures of him smiling away with his golf buddies, including the basketball star Alonzo Mourning, surfaced all over the internet. As you’d expect, the media, and most thinking people, had a field day discussing how insane this was. In full disaster control mode, Obama’s people gave all kinds of explanations…to no avail.
By the time you need lots of people explaining that what people saw wasn’t really what was happening, it’s too late. The damage is done.
Meanwhile David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, rushed back from his vacation after one day to show how seriously he took this barbarous act. The contrast spoke volumes.
To be clear, I have no doubt that Obama was serious in his words of disgust and anger. My wonder is how could such an intelligent man be so oblivious to what people would take away from his rushing off from the microphone to get out of his suit, into his golf clothes, hop into a golf cart, and spend the afternoon enjoying himself while James Foley’s parents were shown in all their agony.
The main job of a leader is to lead. To be strong in the face of adversity and show people he is working to address the situation. To guide the organization and show the path forward. And to walk the path.
Clearly this is as extreme an example as it’s possible to imagine but the same applies daily to those in leadership positions whatever they lead. It’s not the talk…it’s the walk.
People take the message from what they see you do, not what you say. And these days, everything becomes public sooner or later. Many politicians, business leaders, and countless others have learned this to their dismay.
Don’t be the next one. Act as though everything you do is visible because…it is. Match your actions to your words. Show them you believe what you say.
It’s not the talk…it’s the walk.