Leadership Habit 36: Show and Tell

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Leadership Habit 36: Show and Tell

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Role models represent the do as I do approach. What is your leadership behavior? Do you show as much as you tell? Show and tell is leadership habit number 36.

leadership habit

It’s not uncommon that the best leader in an organization during times of calm is not necessarily the best leader for the same organization during the storm. Yes, it can be done, and often it is, but the skill set might be different.

If you’re watching, leadership is transparent. The leader often believes that the organization (followers) will adopt a pattern of behavior based on what is said. This is the tell part.

Show and Tell

Unfortunately, most people who are paying attention believe more deeply about what they are shown. Show and tell favors the show part, every time.

Consider that you are told:

It is the best handling car.

The restaurant has the best dinner in town.

The workout routine will burn more calories and keep you looking fit in less than 10 minutes per day.

Is it believable? It might be when the car is shown on a closed course raceway exiting a turn. When the picture of the dinner platter on the menu dropped off at the office looks fantastic. And, when the professional athlete featured in the commercial has the abs you’ve been hoping for.

It’s always made more compelling with the show part.

The trouble that many people in a leadership role get themselves into is that they want to only do the tell part. Worse, they often don’t like to live by their own rules of the game. What is your leadership habit?

Leadership Habit

Every leader needs to be aware of style during times of calm as compared with times of storm. Nearly every business is cyclical in some manner. Every up cycle might have an occasional down. Every positive turn might occasionally result in a wrong turn.

The leader is the person who illustrates how to get to the next correct turn and who positions the team for the next climb. They lead the way by showing, not just by telling.

It is often more evident during difficult times, that is when the team is looking for an example. On a normal day everyone is busy doing their part. On a bad day they stop what they are doing and watch for examples on how to do it right.

In addition to the proper execution of show and tell, the leader lives by their rules.

The tell part is only compelling with the show.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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