By Fran Kick

There’s an expression that “What you do screams so loudly I cannot hear what you’re saying!”  Too many times leaders can talk the talk, but when it comes time to walking the walk… well… let’s just say they have a tough time living up to their words.  Any inconsistency between what a leader supposedly believes in, values, or expects in others and their own example – creates a sense of conflict, a lack of congruency which tends to destroy credibility, respect, and trust within a group.

“If you say what you mean and you mean what you say, then you must do what you believe and believe what you do to be true to the you that is YOU!”

“Leadership is a “We/Us” game in a sometimes “I/Me” world!”

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining congruence relates to the leaders’ focus on themselves vs. the group. Sometimes leaders actually emerge, come to the front, or take the lead because they only see a benefit for themselves. What motivates them might be a selfish reason such as: “It’ll look good on my resume.  I’ll get to call the shots!  I won’t have to do anything except tell other people what to do and when to do it.  I want the attention, glamour & glory of being in charge!” Can you think of other selfish reasons that some people want to be leaders?

This kind of attitude where the predominant theme of a leader is “What will I get out of it?” or “What’s in it for me?” sets up an “I/Me” kind of vision in the eyes of the leader.  The leader is perceived by the group as only doing what’s good for the individual leader rather than for the entire organization.  The only mission the leader seems to be on is one for his or her own ego gratification. Extrinsically or intrinsically, no matter what the motive, it always seems to be for the benefit of the leader and not necessarily of the group.  Taken to an extreme this kind of attitude can actually prevent the group or organization from being successful because the leader’s only worried about one thing… himself or herself – numero uno!

“When science finally locates the center of the universe, some people will be surprised to learn they are not it!” — Anonymous

“Avoid having your ego so close to your position.” — Colin L. Powell/U.S. Secretary of State

We’ve all heard the expression before that there is no “I” in the word “team!”  Leaders who succeed are consistently committed to doing what’s best for the group, not just themselves.  There’s a clear “We/Us” emphasis about the way they do things. They go above and beyond to make things happen, focusing their efforts on what strengthens the group’s collective energy towards a unifying goal or mission. Who can you think of who exemplifies this kind of leadership perspective?

Leadership is a “We/Us” game in a sometimes “I/Me” world! There’s no question that it is harder to develop commitment within a group when a leader or member has an “I/Me” approach to everything they do.  Commitment, like anything else in a process, evolves from everyone within the group (i.e. not just the leader).  It requires the physical and mental investment of time, effort and energy from everyone in the organization.  Even though every member has various reasons for participating in the group, commitment brings them together in spite of any differences. Leaders commit to completion.
Their “followthrough” is an attribute of persistence and perseverance.  Remember actions do speak louder than words, so always KICK IT IN!

“A champion is someone drenched in sweat and bent over in exhaustion when no one is looking.” — Mia Hamm’s college soccer coach, on a note he wrote to her after he saw her practicing alone one early morning.