What makes a leader? Charisma? Fame? Actions? My vote goes to number 3. We live in a time where unfortunately money, power and greed often portray are leaders. There are individuals who dare to be different, read honest and lead with integrity.
One such person is the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz. While I understand one photo is not everything it does show the lengths she is willing to go for her people. If you haven’t seen it, here she is in waist deep (sewage-filled) water searching for individuals in Puerto Rico.
How many of our leaders would be willing to get down and dirty like that? Why is this important? Because empathy and the willingness to even try to understand another’s plight is escaping our companies, politics and interpersonal communications. Unless you actually put yourself in their shoes now and then, your perspective is warped.
OK that’s sounds wonderfully rhetorical show me an example. If I own and operate a fitness studio (which I do) and don’t work out, would individuals take me seriously on the topic? Probably not, however if I do as I advise, they might be more willing to have faith and understand I know first hand the challenges as well as benefits.
Example number two, if I state that building a strong community means being active in your environment, I become more trusted by others when I can demonstrate actively similar involvement. Just like its’ impossible for me to promote eating real food if every day I’m a customer at McDonalds.
This past week has shown a complete disregard for leading by example. Politicians telling US citizens to tighten their belts and suck it up on expenses, while they fly private charter airplanes and spend tax payer dollars unnecessarily. More importantly leaders are there to build bridges, assist those in need and create avenues for the greater good. Not to enflame tensions of racism, hatred and bigotry.
The wellness industry is just as guilty in many respects, as other fields. We’ve forgotten what it means to lead by example. Forcing individuals into a weight loss program or unnecessary health exam is not a form of leadership by actions. It’s doing wellness to them not for them.
How to get back to the basics of leadership judged by your actions not your pocketbook?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a class (be a student again) of what you promote.
- Example: I work for a communication company and recently was an attendee in a communication course. Putting myself in the other side of the aisle gives a deeper appreciation of what my client’s experience.
- Volunteer for a project that gives real face-to-face time with individuals in need.
- Example: Deliver meals on wheels, assist in a homeless shelter, coach a little league team, and work at a boys or girls club.
- Recognize and promote elders within your community or profession who have continually led by their actions.
- Example: Invite them to speak, teach and share their wisdom with others.
- Do more to promote live interactions in place of virtual connections.
- Example: Organize a social gathering, join a book club, be part of a community event and simply have coffee with friends.
Those are just four simple ideas of which to ponder. The list is endless but simply said its look for more real encounters with friends and colleagues away from a text, social media connection and or virtual interaction.
If we want better leaders we have to support, respect and vocally represent those who lead by their actions. Isn’t that what we learned as kids? Actions speak louder than words. Time to revisit that path in our fields, as well as in our politics.
“Well done is better than well said.”