In any business at any level, it’s important to practice what you preach. If you say one thing and do another, how can you ever build trust with the people around you? It doesn’t matter if you’re in sales, leadership, management, or working at the entry level. If you don’t have integrity, you won’t get very far in the relationship building department. I think that’s pretty much common sense.
Yet, in my career I have seen a lot of hypocrisy at all levels in various organizations. Leaders who harp about the importance of following safety rules in a manufacturing environment but then blatantly ignore the rules when they are in the production area. Companies that promote their corporate ethics and values on their website but fail to instill those values at any level in their organization. Bankers and financial advisers that teach the importance of avoiding debt while they themselves finance a new car so they can impress their clients.
I myself have been guilty of not following the very policies I was charged to enforce in previous jobs. As I look back on my adult life, I prided myself on living with integrity and always doing the right thing. Yet I know there are plenty of times I fell short of the standard I uphold in my own mind. I’ve fallen short of the standard as a parent, as a leader, as an employee, and as a son. If I think about it hard enough, I’m sure most of the times I failed to practice what I preach were when it was inconvenient for me to do the right thing.
So how do you operate? Do you practice what you preach, even when it’s inconvenient for you? Even when nobody’s looking? I think it’s important to periodically take a good look inside yourself and at your role within your company or organization. The way people perceive you is a direct reflection of who you are. Do you like who they see? Is your work a reflection of who you are? What do you need to change, either in your work or within yourself, to reflect who you want to be?