A leader was instructing his followers, "So practise and obey whatever they tell you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practise what they teach."
One of the challenge of any person's leadership journey is living out what you tell others to do; for me this is a daily awareness as a leader. Any follower would know that we always put our leaders to the test, we judge what they say, how they behave, whether their behaviour matches their words and so on. If we were to catch the leader out on a lie or we see that the behaviour is totally different from what they say, our respect for that leader evaporates in an instant.
I worked as head of business services for many years, finance was one of the areas of my responsibilities and this brought some interesting challenges when it comes to complying with financial policies. As the leader, everything I did when it comes to expenses was scrutinised by my team, and that was okay but it taught me that as a leader with responsibilities, you really have to die to self interest if you want to sustain the respect of the people around you.
It is so easy to teach people but to do it yourself requires a diligence that is not taught in leadership school. How can you tell people to work with integrity, if you are struggling with being honest yourself? How can you motivate people to serve others when you love your own comfort so much?
I'm sure most of us have experienced leaders who do not practise what they 'preach' at one point in our life's journey. Maybe, some of us are even struggling with this in our leadership journey? Lets check ourselves against the following characteristics of leaders who do not practise what they teach;
They are very good in making rules with exemptions for themselves,
They are gifted orators and are always ready with explanations for everything,
Their actions are usually to impress people,
They are quick to use their leadership positions to exalt themselves,
Their own comfort takes priority over everyone else,
They feel they deserve to be treated with special attention,
They find it easy to tell a lie (with a straight face!).
The truth my friends is that leadership is not easy, if you can't live it do not teach it.