Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. – Mark Twain
More than anything else, the example a leader sets is more important in building trust than any wonderful speed they give. One of characteristics of the American workplace is the lack of trust of managers by those they manage. In fact over 65% of workers do not trust the leadership of their organization On a more global basis, a May 2006 Zogby poll showed that corporate leaders were found untrustworthy by 69% of a cross sample of the American public. This level of distrust was almost the same as that held for members of the U.S. Congress.
One thing can change this and it doesn’t seem like such a hard thing is DO AS YOU SAY. Just four words can change so much. As I think about this, I am reminded of a story I heard about Mahatma Ghandi. As the story goes, a woman came to Ghandi and asked for his help. This woman told Ghandi that she was afraid for her son’s health. He was eating far too much sugar and would not listen to anyone who told him that his was not healthy. She told Ghandi that he was one person that her son would listen to. She implored him to give this admonition to her son. Ghandi said that he could not do so that day, but asked the woman to return in two weeks.
As requested the woman and her son returned to see Ghandi in two weeks. When her son was presented to Ghandi, he told the boy that sugar was a great risk to his health and advised him to stop eating it immediately. The young man was moved by the great man’s words and promised to follow Ghandi’s advice. As the mother and son were leaving, the mother stayed behind for a moment to ask Ghandi a question. She said, “Bapu, why did you have us wait two weeks before you offered this advice to my son?” Ghandi smiled and said, “Well, two weeks ago I was still eating sugar.”
How often do I give great advice that I do not follow? Too often. We all know the right things to do. It is doing those ourselves and letting my example show the way rather than my good words that will be the true guidance for all those you care about.