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Are you embodying your words as a leader?

To put it succinctly, as a leader, do your actions align with the messages you convey to your team? Leaders often face a multitude of objectives and challenges that demand their attention, all while providing guidance, advice, and coaching to their teams. It is understandable that leaders may occasionally forget specific details from their interactions, such as discussions, guidance, intentions, or plans, but it is highly likely that team members will remember.


This is a critical juncture where leaders can inadvertently undermine their relationships with their teams. How does this happen? Put simply, if a leader sets expectations but fails to follow through when the need arises, they run the risk of losing or actually losing credibility with their teams. Leaders must bear in mind that their commitment to their teams is tested through the execution of their responsibilities.


This scenario can manifest in various ways. It could pertain to future growth opportunities for team members, how a process will be handled, how engagement is fostered, how work-life balance is honored, or any instance where the leader expresses their vision of how things will unfold under their stewardship. Employees can discern when significant factors impact these situations - thus, we must concentrate solely on situations and outcomes for which the leader bears complete responsibility. In short, as leaders, our teams expect us to act how we said we would act. To add to the commonly known "leaders eat last," we would add "leaders follow through."


So what occurs when a leader has set an expectation that they do not honor or act upon? Essentially, the leader conveys to the team, "Do not trust me—I will not support my words with actions." Clearly, this is not an ideal message from a leader, is it? More significantly, it is not the most effective way for an organization to retain a highly skilled workforce. Candidly put, how long does an organization expect to retain its talent if they work for leaders whose words and actions do not align?


In conclusion, the alignment between a leader's words and actions is paramount in building strong relationships with their teams. It is natural for leaders to face numerous challenges and responsibilities, leading to occasional lapses in memory or oversight. However, it is crucial to recognize that team members watch for leaders to follow through on their promises - and organizations that fail to appreciate the need for leaders to cultivate a culture of trust and loyalty will risk talent retention.


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