There was one more leadership principle I saw in action when we rode horses earlier this year. When the wrangler taught us how to steer, he explained that all we needed to do was gently move the reins to the right (or left) in order to have the horse turn that way. The change in pressure of the reins resting on the neck of the horse was enough. But then he added that if we really wanted to do it right, we needed to match the pressure of our feet with the movement of the reins, otherwise you would confuse your horse.
I’ve seen leaders make this mistake many times. I’ve made this mistake. We send a message, but contradict that with another action.
It’s not enough to cast vision with skill. People are constantly being pitched to do this and think that, from friends and ads and bosses. To break through people’s distraction and distrust, every word you say and every choice you make has to send the same message. Tweet This A single contradictory element can keep your message from being believed.
A dramatic example might be the three automotive executives who appeared before congress a handful of years ago, pleading for billions of dollars in government bailouts to save their companies. They spoke passionately of the crushing lack of cash and the many jobs at risk—and then each flew back home on their company’s private jet. Their leadership credibility still hasn’t recovered.
But even small things matter. For example, I once gave a presentation on the importance of excellence in the details. But I had to play the video clips for that presentation by holding a microphone up to the speaker on my laptop. (We didn’t have the audio cord needed to plug directly into the speakers.) It pretty much ruined the moment.
What message are you sending with your words? With your actions? With your spending? With your clothes? With how you spend your time?
Align all your actions and cast a clear vision. Send only one message. The difference in your followers’ response might surprise you.