Mime Your Leadership

What if you could not speak? What if you could not communicate with words? What if you chose not to use words to communicate and, instead, limited your communication to actions and gestures? What if you chose to mime your leadership? It may sound crazy, but miming your leadership would actually enhance your leadership potential and be the most authentic version of your leadership. Why? Because ultimately no one cares what you say, especially in your leadership.

Sorry, I misspoke. What I meant to say is that no one cares what you say as a leader, except for purposes of comparing what you say with what you do. In other words (pun intended), to assess whether your actions are in alignment with your words. Thus the call for more miming of your leadership, since your actions are the only thing that matter in your leadership.

Okay, there might be some rare situations where your words can be impactful (positively impactful), but even in those situations you will be found out if your actions aren’t in alignment with your words. For example, you may offer words of encouragement or inspiration to the people you serve, but if your actions suggest a lack of encouragement or that you don’t really believe (or practice) what you say, then your leadership is tarnished.

Let’s talk about one of the biggest leadership gaps between words and actions. Most organizational leaders are quick to express some version of care and concern for their team members: “Our people are our greatest asset,” “We value our people,” or “Our people come first.” However, I often find that the team members’ experience (with the leader) does not align with these platitudes. There are so many inconsistencies between the expressed value of team members and how those team members are communicated with (or not), empowered (or not), trusted (or not), or supported (or not). Ralph Waldo Emerson famously offered that “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying,” and this gap (between words and actions) is at the heart of many leadership failures.

Enter the mime – specifically, the concept of miming your leadership. Imagine that you are unable to communicate using words and everything that you want to communicate to your team members is solely through your actions. If you want your people to feel valued or cared about, show them. If you want your people to feel trusted, you show them by engaging in trust based actions. If you want your people to feel empowered, then empower them through your actions. In other words, assume that all of your people are from Missouri (the show me state) and show them what you believe through your actions. In short, mime your leadership.

While this concept may seem metaphorical, it’s intended to be more literal. Your people are likely tired of your words and especially tired of your words not aligning with your actions. Your people are starving to actually experience (through your actions) all of the things that you’ve been saying for years (e.g., I value you, I care about you, you’re our most important asset). Forget about walking your talk – just show your team members that they matter every day and in every way through your actions. In other words, walk your leadership because no talk is necessary. In the spirit of the great Marcel Marceau, show your people who you are and let them see your leadership through your actions. It’s show time!

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