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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