Mar 20, 2012
What Are Your Words Worth?
I'm normally wary of reading manifestos, let alone creating one. I don't have a gift with words, at least in terms of using a few to maximum effect. I like to be understood, first and foremost. As a result I tend to talk and write a lot (some would say too much). But this came to me in a moment of frustration, one which led to these 19 words you see, and so here it is.
I don't want to overstate what I believe to be obvious, but it's important that what we say matter. That's not to imply that every word should be deep with meaning and significance. It just means that you should make them count for something, particularly when they're directed at someone. Keep your promises. Stand firm to the commitments that you've made. If you can't--which can be understandable, because we're human--then say so, apologize, and reaffirm your commitment as soon as possible.
I remember being in a management conference where the facilitator was talking about the concept of credibility. As he was discussing this he would periodically stop and fill a cup, little by little, with water. This, he said, was what a manager's credibility should feel like when they are able to establish and maintain positive relationships with staff members. It was an investment and it took time. He then demonstrated what happened when something happened and credibility was lost. You guessed it, lots of water all over the floor and an empty cup to refill. The lesson was clear to everyone in the room--your words as a leader have a value, as much or more than your actions.
As you move about in the world I encourage all of you to make your words count for more than you may have given them credit for in the past. They have an impact, and it's worth the investment.