Walking talk and talking walk

May 28, 2006 § 1 Comment

Photo by Steppen_Wolf

Photo by Steppen_Wolf

The power of leaders in creating values, context, culture and actions is often highly underestimated. And the effects on others and the organisation of screwing that up too.

Want to know how to “walk your talk” and “talk your walk” to enable healthy change towards increased professional production in your organisation?

Want to undo the power of complaints that you don’t walk your talk? Complaints that freely seem to be walking and talking in your halls and corridors?

If ideas and memes you (wish to) promote are congruent with your core values, the following actions will be quite easy for you to do.

  1. Start with a deep understanding of “why” you your self want to see a particular change in your context. Check internally that it is congruent with your core beliefs.
  2. “Show, don’t tell” — Model the behavior you want to see from others. There is nothing more powerful than doing the actions or behaviors you request from others. For here is the nasty truth: whatever you do, others will feel free to do that for or to you too. As Above, So Below.
  3. Making a rule, or designing a process, follow it yourself to get first hand experience. No body follows rules that rule makers don’t follow themselves.
  4. Balance your act to be part of the team, instead of a detached head. Dig in and do some actual work according to your skills and abilities. So, (project) managers and architects that don’t know how to code (well enough) for a particular purpose in a particular context, can still do “other” (re)useful stuff. Likely people will appreciate whatever knowledge and energy you personally put in, as well as you knowing about the effort that was/is needed to get the work done. People will trust your leadership more knowing you have been part of the (w)hole experience.
  5. Help people achieve goals important to them, as well as your own. Ensure there is some thing for all involved resulting from the effort and work that was put in by all.
  6. Do It! Don’t make wild promises you have no intention of keeping, no matter what the reasons are for making such talk or for not walking it. And if you can’t, don’t try to make not walking talk silently disappear. People will wonder, while really wanting to be able to trust you and your leadership. This wondering want can produce dangerous multiple binds and lots of rumors in halls and corridors.
  7. Gradually build commitment for the larger purpose. Make explicit your business purpose is more than just the bottom line, without ignoring the bottom line. In my case, the larger purpose of Moebius is to “expand professional optimism for self, business, and others”, and to survive Moebius for Making It So.
  8. Use every possible fitting communication tool you can find to build commitment and support for the larger purpose, for healthy organisational values and for the culture you need/want/desire to create. This can include meeting leadership, publishing a (corporate) blog with regular entries, and whatever else you can creatively think of. Express your self!
  9. Have strategic exchanges with people and teams openly, so people can get clarity about expectations and direction. Building self-confidence and organisational confidence (expansive professional optimism), stimulates cooperation and collaboration across boundaries, sparks new products, and shortens cycle times.
  10. Guard your self and each other by giving feedback to each other when you/they fail to walk their talk and talk their walk. It is not up to project managers, team leads, developers, architects, coaches and consultants to point out mismatching walk and talk to you. Confronting a manager takes courage. Agile and XP consultants and coaches have that as a core value. What they may not have (yet), is facts and a broad understanding of a particular organisation to shape their feedback effectively. To gain trust, managers must hold themselves, and each other, accountable for their behavior(s).

“Become the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

I Wish you Happy and Effective Walking!

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