What matters is what you do

– not what you say

If you are in a position of authority you have influence. Unwittingly or not, your behaviours are magnified – they are visible and often emulated within your organisation.  This may be because people respect and admire you as a role model or it may simply be that people feel that the way to succeed is to mimic the behaviour patterns of senior managers.

Let me give you an example:  Fred is a senior manager, he is committed to his company and works with enthusiasm.  His team respect him, not so much for his leadership and managerial qualities, but for his stamina. 

Fred is usually in the office by 8 am every day and rarely leaves before 7 pm.  He frequently sends emails during evenings and weekends and regularly calls the office while on holiday.

A few years ago Fred bought a Blackbery and is now able to send and receive emails at seemingly any time of the day or night.

Fred works this hard because he enjoys it, although he always tells new-hires that he does not expect them to work the same hours as him.  In fact, to help them to leave the office earlier he has bought them all Blackberries so that they can finish work off while travelling home.

Fred is proud of his team as they also work long hours.  Fred assumes therefore that they are as committed to their work as he is.  The only thing is that Fred doesn’t understand is why a recent study by the company showed that productivity was no higher in Fred’s area than in other parts of the organisation and why staff turnover was double the average for the organisation as a whole.

The problem is that although Fred says he doesn’t expect his team to work in the same way as he does, he doesn’t really mean it.  He is pleased when he sees someone in the office before him or when someone replies to his email at the weekend.  Despite what he says, his staff sees the values he lives his life by and act accordingly.

Therefore, as a manager, recognise that people will tend to copy what you do more than what you say and that ensuring that you have a good work-life balance, is a key element in ensuring that your employees do too.


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