Insight article

Leaders as role models

I recall a great story when a little boy, sick from eating so much sugar beet, was taken by his mother in desperation to Mahatma Gandhi for guidance. She walked for days to get there, but was promptly sent home again by the great man and told to return in a month. The reason? Gandhi needed a month of sugar abstinence himself before telling the boy not to eat any more sugar.

Business leaders can take a leaf out of Gandhi’s book. Leaders – right down to team or line managers – need to realise that they are not just responsible for communicating strategy, vision and values to their teams. They need to adopt the actions and behaviours that will reinforce those messages and make a difference to their performance. It’s all very well driving the message of great teamwork, efficiency and customer service home, but since managers are the most trusted and influential people where their teams are concerned, they need to walk the talk, not just talk it. And this applies to every leader in the business – including the executive team.

HR professionals need to work closely with marketing and comms teams to ensure that these behavioural messages come across loud and clear. A spotlight on behaviours needs to form a critical part of the strategic journey – they are the guiding lights to how we deliver the strategy and ultimately our brand promise.

Nailia Tasseel