Taking the Hard Road


Managers (and parents) have the very difficult job of leading others, but are often amazed when others do not take their advice.

The obvious and most frequent response is to blame those who refuse to take the coaching for their attitude, laziness and lack of discipline.

Yet, it is the rare manager who takes Gandhi seriously: “If you want to change the world, become the first change.”

In a culture change initiative, for example, mangers come up with a list of new “values” that they continually exhort their employees to follow. They repeat them in speeches, create colorful posters and pass out lists of values to be displayed prominently in each cubicle.

When the lackadaisical results are realized, it is the brave manager who is willing to discover what was wrong in their approach, rather than to seek fault in others.

The good news is that the brave manager who sincerely asks these questions and shares the process they are engaged in openly with their employees is demonstrating some powerful behaviours.

  1. They are showing the importance of being willing to struggle openly in living the values
  2. They are teaching the process of living the values, rather than the process of “talking about” the values
  3. They are demonstrating courage by showing their weaknesses, rather than demonstrating arrogance by showing their “strength” in living the values.

If authenticity is the currency used to build trust, then the managers who demonstrate these behaviours are more likely to be followed by their employees, and are more likely to engage in the challenge of living by a new set of values. This is a powerful place to start, albeit infrequently observed.