Leadership: Modeling the Way

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

By: Anne Massaro, Ph.D.
Project Manager, Office of Human Resources

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, identified “modeling the way” as one of five practices of exemplary leadership.  Others of us know this practice as “leading by example” and being aware of the “shadow we are casting.”  From my perspective, it is the most critical leadership practice.   When we ask our colleagues to engage in something for which they have reluctance, and when we ask our colleagues to embrace new behaviors, they will hesitate long enough to see if we are fully engaged and willing to embrace what is uncomfortable, different and new.   If our leaders are not fully engaged in a new strategy and in changing their own behavior to meaningfully contribute to the new strategy, why should we?

In a recent retreat, a participant reminded me of the quote, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”  I don’t know the author of this quote, and the author’s name wasn’t offered to me.  The meaning of the quote, however, I know.  We do what our leaders do.  Consciously and unconsciously, we commit when our leaders commit.  We walk the talk when we observe those we deem credible walking the talk.  We risk our personal investment when they risk and personally invest.

The Ohio State University values give us hundreds of opportunities every day to “model the way.”  If I am accountable for successes and for mistakes, others around me will do the same.  If I am open to receiving feedback, and acting on the feedback I receive, it will be easier for those around me to be open to feedback.  If I communicate in honest and direct ways, I will likely receive the same, in return.  Values on the wall are nice to have and they sound impressive.  Lived values, values “in-use” are what will really change culture, one person at a time.

Here is a video that goes into more detail about The Leadership Challenge

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

6 responses to “Leadership: Modeling the Way

  1. that’s just what i was looking for.

  2. Hey. Cool article. There’s a problem with your site in chrome, and you may want to check this… The browser is the market leader and a huge component of other people will omit your wonderful writing because of this problem.
    best web design Orlando

  3. Hello Gina Bericchia, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this article. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  4. It is true “we do what our leaders do” so important but often forgotten.

  5. Jennifer Campbell

    I love your thinking on the shadow of the leader concept and being accountable for the shadow we are casting. Lately I have been thinking that it can be easy to blame the leaders above us for our less than perfect circumstance, especially when we are low on the mood elevator. Truly though, I can be/should be accountable for the shadow I cast regardless of the shadow I am standing in. It is an empowering thought. In the Medical Center we have included “leadership” as a value. Even though no one reports to me, I need to be as aware of my shadow and influence as any leader. Thank you for spurring my thinking.

  6. Mariah Edgington

    Dr Massaro,
    I appreciate your insightful blog post. Credibility is the foundation of all solid relationships indeed. I look forward to reading “The Leadership Challenge”. The quote you sited above is from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    Best regards,
    Mariah Edgington
    Ross Heart Hospital RN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s