Written by Kathy Fauble, Professional Education Services Director, and Liz Swanson, Assistant Director

Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist who was a featured author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and the 1970s. Mead has some great quotes on society and on leadership. I found this one today as I was thinking about this week’s blog:

“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

This is all about walking your talk. It is easy to talk the talk: saying all the right things, knowing what needs to be done, and explaining all the right processes to make it happen. Walking the talk is all about action and where the rubber meets the road. If you work in an organization, you’ve heard this complaint repeatedly. Leaders and managers say they want to foster change and promote employee engagement, but their actions do not match their words. Managers sometimes fail miserably to walk their talk. They pay lip service to what they say they want, but employees don't see committed actions that match the words.

Commit to a Set of Values

As a leader, it is important to commit to a set of core values that you can always lean into. Susan M. Heathfield, a noted human resource specialist, shared these tips to help you walk the walk and talk the talk.

Model the Behavior You Want to See from Others. There is nothing more powerful for employees than observing the “big bosses” do the actions or behaviors they are requesting from others.

If You Make a Rule or Design a Process, Follow It. Until you decide to change it, follow the rules that you have developed to follow. Take the required steps at each stage in the process. Why would employees follow the rules if the rule-makers don’t?

Utilize Communication Tools Effectively. Use every possible communication tool to build commitment and to support your workplace goals and your organization’s values. Be honest and build trust through your communication. This includes what you discuss at meetings, in your corporate blog, on your Intranet, in newsletters, in social media, and so forth.

Be willing to walk the hard walk and talk the hard talk to get the desired outcome. Don’t take the easy way out when it comes to difficult conversations.

Developing trust is what walking your talk is all about. As I am writing this I keep hearing Aerosmith playing walk this way in my head.

Walk this way

Talk this way

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