Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

Driving into work yesterday, I came up to a stoplight next to a European family cargo van. You know, one of those funny-looking boxy things. The van caught my eye because it stuck out in a sea of Chevys, Fords, and Yugos. OK, I didn’t actually see a Yugo.

While the van was stunning, what really threw me off was the dad, the driver. He was texting, while his daughter, who was sitting in the passenger seat, was watching him. Now, I assume it was a father and daughter. It really doesn’t matter. It was an adult and a young teenage girl. But there’s no doubt he was showing her his mad skills of texting and driving at the same time. Look honey, this is exactly what you should be doing when you get your driver’s license.

I will admit that I am a frequent offender of texting and driving…Uh, I mean, that’s illegal, right? Of course, I don’t do it. But I have a friend who does from time to time. However, he doesn’t have any young impressionable minds who ride with him and see his stupidity. The truth is, it’s not the smartest thing on the planet to do, but most people do it. And if you have children who see you texting while driving, then you’re telling them they should do the same exact thing when they start driving.

According to the National Safety Council, there are approximately 1.6 million crashes caused by drivers using cellphones and texting while driving. The issue comes when we turn our newly licensed child loose with a 6,000 pound torpedo and tell him/her NOT to use the phone while driving. Seriously? We’ve set such a great example of restraint ourselves, wink wink, and we expect them to leave their social brain sitting in the console untouched. Hold your breath on that one. Our example just increased their chances of becoming a statistic.

The same holds true when it comes to leadership. I frequently hear leaders preach one thing, only to walk out something completely different in their lives. And then, they wonder why their team members do exactly the opposite of what they are saying. It’s like a surprise to them. As a leader, you have to realize your team members are watching you—just like children observe their parents.

Your kids are taking cues and direction from your actions, possibly even more than your words. And why wouldn’t they? It’s what they have done since they were born. Therefore, you have to understand that your actions have to match your words. Every time you give someone direction, think about whether you follow your own advice. If not, don’t be shocked if they don’t respect it either.

Question: How have you seen leaders violate this law of common sense?

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

29 thoughts on “Do As I Say, Not As I Do!”

  1. It is practising what we preaching. Yup! It happens. Often, we preach others but we fail to practice the same in our lives. When our words and deeds don’t match, our credibility gets lost. In that situation, leaders will not be able to gain trust and respect from the followers. As leaders, we need to walk the talk also and not only talk the talk.

    Thanks for a fantastic post, this Friday. Great insights. I can relate this message and have experienced similar stituation in my work life too.

  2. This reminded me of a situation with a former boss. He was absolutely burnt out in his job and it showed. However, it didn’t REALLY show until he moved on. That’s when I noticed how much lighter the mood got and how much happier and calmer the team became. It hit me, we were completely feeding off his energy and attitude and mimicking his behavior. Based on his example, it was okay to get really frustrated about leadership up the chain or people in other divisions. Not to toot my own horn here, but recognizing that was huge for me when I was hired as the new director. One of the most important steps I took that lead to much of the success we had was staying as positive as possible and not dragging the team with negative talk and gossip because, as you said, I knew I was being watched. I’ll never forget that.

  3. Wanna see something funny, next time you pull up alongside someone texting and driving give em a horn blast! (I prefer a train horn) I would imagine it would be priceless. But of course I would never do such a thing and certainly not when an impressionable young person was riding with me….wink wink,

    Seriously though, 9 out 10 times when you see erratic driving, they are texting. It is ridiculous how bad those drivers are and they don’t even realize it. I’m guessing drunk or not fit to have a license the other 1 out of 10 times.

    I suggest practicing just a bit of self restraint. Is that text really worth the deductible, ticket and higher insurance premiums? And that is the best case, worst case, you will need to invoke your umbrella policy to pay off some poor family.

  4. This is one more reason I am thankful I live in a rural place with limited cell coverage. And I don’t even know how to text, but I got into serious trouble 10 years ago listening to a book on tape. Still haunts me.

    We live in a society of such instant gratification that waiting until a better time doesn’t enter most of our brains. On any subject we rarely considering waiting.

    People often invoke the phrase “do as I say, not as I do” as though it is a free pass for misbehavior. The phrase changes nothing. There are studies about kids ALWAYS mimicking behavior rather than obeying words.

  5. This post clarified to me excellently the role of leadership at home, when the kids are around. A parent can require his kids to start their day early, eat healthy and behave normally with other people, and then the parent sleeps until late, eats junk food and screams at people everywhere… and then blaming the world for having terrible-behaving kids.

    Food for thought for the weekend.
    Thanks for this insight. Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. As an insurance agent I cringe when I see these things every day. When Mayhem does our commercials there’s alot of truth to it. As the leader in my agency the producers and staff absolutely watch what I model, the good and the bad. That’s a growth opportunity for me and I appreciate the tips Chris has provided.

  7. In the past I have worked at jobs where they say they care about their employees and then turn around and prove with their actions that they lied between their teeth. That doesn’t engender much confidence in the credibility of their leadership, and any desire on the part of the employee to go above and beyond in their duties on the job. Thankfully that’s not the case @ DR.

  8. Wow Chris, what timing on a “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” post. Just this morning, my wife and I were have a “discussion”. Our 3 year old says from the other room “HEY YOU TWO, quit arguing right now!” We both had to apologize and we moved on. We didn’t think we were arguing, but to someone else, we were. Someone’s always watching/listening, both at work and at home.

  9. This is a great point to make about being a leader. I do wonder if it really boils down to having integrity in our lives? What makes us think that we are special or privileged enough to get by with breaking our own rules? I struggle with this all the time because I lead and mentor college students and they see me all the time.

  10. Yesterday evening, as we were making preparation to indulge in our Friday family ritual (Movie and popcorn), my 5 year old yelled down to her older sister from upstairs (That’s what my husband says, i think she is just projecting like me). “Could i please borrow you for a minute!”
    I had to smile, as i realised i’d used that same exact phrase the day before.

    We are always looking for role models in life whether we know it or not, and those in authority or positions of leadership tend to make natural candidates. While I can’t think of a specific example of a leader misbehaving in this way, this post reminds me to never forget that my actions and attitudes (in private and in public) may end up influencing somebody to be the greatest they can be or they can contribute to their being complete failures. Can i ran away from that responsibility?

  11. I recently witnessed the owner of a real estate company totally lose it emotionally – totally – over what was a very small thing. I mean, he freaked out – ranted and raved and was totally out of control Since then – I have noticed that several other realtors in his office – they do the same thing. The smallest thing throws them over the top – operating from emotions rather than using wisdom. I thought at that time – his people are watching him – and then they are copying him.

    But then I thought – my people are watching me! And they are copying me! I should be more careful in what I do and say – and how I react to stressful times.

    If I want them to handle a crisis with calmness and clarity – I must do it first. Gulp……

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