“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James
Previously on The Blonde Leading the Blonde, we began our discussion on the leadership practice of “modeling the way.” We examined the prescription leadership professionals, Kouzes and Posner (yeah, we’re on that tight, last-name basis now), advise in which one should DWYSYWD- do what you say you will do- to effectively lead. We assessed the “say” in such prescription and how through defining your values, you find your authentic voice and that voice empowers you as a leader. As we conclude the model the way practice, we will be tying up the loose ends of credibility behaviorally and further define the “do” concept of DWYSYWD. Let’s dive in.
(see Antagonist sea witches. for any clarifications regarding last week’s post).
It has been my intention to create a judgement-free blog community through my site and disclose aspects of life that aren’t always accepted or discussed. With that mindset, I’m going to transition into our discussion today with the comfort that what I am about to say will be received with utmost respect.
I have been watching my soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, for over six years now and am proud to say I have yet to miss an episode in that time. Before you even ask, no, no one has been brought back from the dead nor has there been any evil twin who’s out to take revenge on their long, lost other half. It is a quality soap that is an efficient use of my time and I encourage all of you to experience such striking entertainment as well.
Recently on B&B, there has been great struggle with Liam and Steffy, the beloved (and newly pregnant) couple that has overcome numerous uphill battles, yet, have remained strong through their love. To sum things up quickly and conservatively, Steffy and Liam’s father, Bill, had a very passionate and adult-like hug one night when Steffy stormed out on Liam after an argument. Now, Liam has also had an extensive history with Hope, the loyal and committed dream girl that every man adores. Hope had been overseas at the Paris office of Forrester Creations (the fashion house that every character and their mother work for on the show) during all this rising conflict between Steffy and Liam but had just returned as Liam decided to leave Steffy for her unforgivable night of hugging.
Naturally, of course, Liam seeks comfort and consolation through Hope as he tries to work through this situation with his wife but starts to remember all the memories he and Hope share together and the undeniable connection they hold. He wants to resolve this issue with Steffy, especially with their child on the way, yet, is distracted by the unearthing of his feelings for his past love. As Liam’s confiding in Hope about longing for his marriage to survive, his actions rather prove he’s drawing closer to Hope and prioritizing that relationship instead. Will Liam patch up these deeply engraved scars with Steffy, or, will his surfacing love for Hope pull tighter to his heart strings???
I’m telling you, this is juicy stuff.
Featured (from left to right):
Hope- the ex obviously still in love with Liam, Liam- THE Liam, Steffy- the wife
Besides an obvious insight as to why my soap is a quality production, what does this twisted love triangle teach us? Bet your bottom dollar, it teaches us about leadership! More specifically so, it teaches us about the “do” of DWYSYWD. Liam is attesting through his conversations with Hope that his values lie with Steffy; however, his actions are attesting his values lie with Hope. As a leader, he would fail at credibility behaviorally.
To recall your memory, credibility behaviorally defines the degree to which actions abide by the values an individual presumably upholds. It’s living your values and holding yourself accountable to those actions. It’s the case of walking the talk, letting actions speak louder than words, practicing what you preach and whatever other cliché applies.
Now, as someone who is an unnaturally loud talker, I have always been certain that if my actions spoke louder than my words, those would have to be some obnoxiously loud actions and would likely be a bit extra, even by my standards. The more I have studied leadership, however, and the more I have grown to understand how to live my values, the case should really be that we let our actions affirm our words. We should not stress one above the other or we risk the potential of jeopardizing how present we are with our intention to pursue it. If you dissect this aspect of leadership, your voice holds as much prominence as your behaviors; it’s how you collaborate the two that speaks the loudest.
This all sounds idyllic, right? We can imperceptibly nod our heads along to such concepts and comprehend how they play part in leadership positions. But, comprehension and application require two different mindsets. What does living out your values actually look like? How do you know you are being intentional with your actions and they are, in fact, affirming your words? How can we avoid being a pathetically indecisive and lovestruck Liam?
One of the biggest misconceptions about living out our values is that we’re expected to act with these grand gestures to prove our priorities. We’re supposed to be saving the world one feebly elder woman on the wrong side of the street at a time. The reality is, these kind of situations are not always the choices of action we face that are characterizing our values. Leaders aren’t saving their company from dire immortal jeopardy on a regular basis. If that were the case, I’d be expecting a much larger Christmas bonus. But because our values are found in our daily lives on less drastic scales, we rather characterize our values through simple actions. As they are then gradually solidified, when we later face those dire immortal situations as leaders, we are better equipped to act in line with what we believe.
Consider your habitual practices of a normal day. The choices you make and the actions you prioritize signal where your values lie. Are there choices you are intentional in making? Do these choices affirm your values?
Writing this post, I considered my regular day and what I prioritize then considered the voice I have suggested I abide by. I compared how these play out together and whether I’m living my values. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The first thing I do the moment I wake up is make my bed. I value organization and the feeling of a structured environment; the serenity of a clean room reflects this for me. As I head to the kitchen to make breakfast, I play some pump-up jams (including, but not limited to the Biebs) while I prepare my eggs and coffee. Within this first hour of my morning, I choose to remain standing to wake myself up and keep my energy flowing. I value engaging myself from the outset and attempting every way I can to help ensure I have a positive day. Intentional positivity is key. As I transition from breakfast, I prepare for my workout, something I greatly prioritize. This is my time and a chance to clear my mind. I value the challenge of pushing myself and setting goals to accomplish.
From this point on, my day can vary depending on what’s on my schedule or what needs done. Regardless, I am intentional in getting ready and presenting myself well through an outward appearance. I may greatly lack in the confidence I so project; however, I value projecting otherwise. This isn’t to say I stress becoming visually appealing, but rather, I stress being visually appealing. There’s something to be said in empowering yourself through holding an external confidence and conveying the message that you are sure in who you are, whether you wear high heels or you wear sneakers or whether you’re cheer captain or you’re on the bleachers.
(if you are not privy to country-day Taylor Swift, that was a classic reference).
The last routine we’ll discuss is my habitual work behavior. I choose to come into every shift with an optimistic mindset and serve each customer with the utmost customer service. I am intentional in engaging with my coworkers to keep up to date with their lives and providing them my full attention to what they have to say. I value relationships and being present out of respect that these are people that impact my life and I deeply care about them.
These are brief examples of the actions I regularly make with intention. So, are these characterizing my values? If we once again refer back to Antagonist sea witches., we find the voice I suggest I abide by and the values those represent. I claim I value determination through hard work. I claim I value self-worth and accomplishments and the process of developing strengths. I claim I value people and enriching how they view their worth.
Though I am far from perfecting this practice, it’s fair to say I am holding myself accountable to my values through the actions I have outlined.
As we review what I do in a typical day, you and I can both see these are not grand gestures. These are merely simple intentions. What we can see, though, is that the truth of living my values is in how they are affirming these intentions and upholding credibility behaviorally. The emphasis is not on my actions speaking louder than my words. The emphasis is allowing my words to apply to my actions. Through simple behaviors, I am solidifying what I believe and being consistent to my voice. This is the collaboration of intentions that attests to a credible leader.
Moving forward, how does this affect the greater concept of leadership and the “do” of DWYSYWD?
One of the beauties of leadership is the impact that embodying your values can have on those you lead. It’s an infectious mindset to those who witness such behavioral integrity. Kouzes and Posner discuss a meta-analysis of behavioral integrity executed by Cornell professors (with assistance from other contributors), Tony Simons and Hannes Leroy, who also obtain doctorates in leadership. Their research clearly demonstrates that the performance level of constituents is dependent upon the alignment between a leader’s words and deeds and the extent to which they trust their leader is performing by the expectations they have set for themselves through the values they claim to hold. The intention in your words and the intention in your actions builds such a culture of your team and the behaviors you both execute.
I’m telling you, this is juicy stuff.
So, do you uphold credibility behaviorally or are you stuck in a state of lovestruck Liam? If you present more of the latter, don’t fret. Another beauty of leadership is that, like any practice, the practice of living your values to model the way for your followers can be developed and can be strengthened. What you prioritize can be shifted. The voice empowering your values can be changed. The intentionality to which you apply yourself to better your actions and hold yourself accountable to such actions is earned, not given. This is what characterizes you.
As you go forth, be conscious of the choices you make and what priorities they are signaling in your life. Be consistent and intentional with your actions. As you gradually solidify your values, you’ll have confidence to act in line with what you believe and one day be a leader who faces dire immortal situations with utmost confidence.
So, this is the blonde living out values. And discussing the prosperity of soap operas in-between.