I dedicated an entire chapter near the beginning of What’s Killing Your Profitability? to how important it is for the top executives and owners of any business to provide an example they’d be proud to have everyone in their respective organizations follow. After sharing the statement I’ve heard John Maxwell make more than any other over the last two decades I’ve studied his work, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” I backed it up with several stories I had experienced personally, detailing how different the results can be when a company’s leaders back an initiative versus when they don’t.
I have little doubt that you’re already picturing a scenario where you’ve seen both sides of this yourself. Let’s be honest, there are far too many times where someone in the public eye appears to be living by the idea of do as I say, not as I do…
Since my purpose for writing that book was based in helping organizations capture lost profitability and this column is focused more about building stronger relationships in our personal lives, I’ll challenge you to consider just how much the example we set impacts the folks we care for the most.
I was just ten years old when Nancy Reagan introduced the “Just Say No” campaign nationally. And quite honestly, who better to promote such an important idea than the wife of a sitting President? While I’m not about to pretend like I followed her suggestion to the letter, I did connect the dots many years later when I realized how closely my son was watching everything I did! That was the primary driver behind me deciding to stop drinking. And oh, how simple life would be if that’s all it took to provide a great example for our kids to follow…
Don’t misunderstand my point here, this isn’t about being on a moral soapbox. The example we set for our kids, as well as for anyone else we’ve earned influence with, ties in so much more. Are we available when they need our time or attention? Is our work ethic something they can emulate with hopes of being successful in their own lives?
How are they seeing us respond to adversity – because we’re certainly all going to face it at some point! And what’s our response when the people we care most about make mistakes? Do we scrutinize their actions, or do we show them compassion while helping them pick up the pieces and find any lesson possible?
While I’d love to pound my chest about how great I’ve done with each of those things, we all know that’s not the case. I’m confident a complete book could be written about the dumb stuff I’ve done, and Cindy could provide more of that content than anyone since she’s been patient enough to tolerate it for more than 25 years now!
What I will call your attention to though is how the example we provide inevitably impacts each of our relationships and the behaviors of those who count on us the most. Everything does indeed rise and fall on leadership, and the example that’s most likely to be followed is nearly always the one provided at the top. While we may not be at the top of an organization chart when it comes to our friends and family, it’s still critical that we provide an example worth following if we want to build and maintain strong relationships!