Monkey see, Monkey do! (The Law of the Picture)

this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, we are taking a journey together towards better leadership.

The Law of the Picture: People do what people see.  ~ John C. Maxwell

Great leaders are both highly visionary and highly practical.  Great leaders understand the importance of seeing beyond here and now.  They ‘get’ the power of vision.  The Bible states that ‘Without vision people perish.’  Once again, the Bible is correct.  Great leaders paint the picture for their followers to keep them focused and help them achieve better results, faster.

But great leaders go beyond the vision.  They not only set the vision, they also take responsibility for helping their followers achieve it.  Yes, leaders communicate the vision to help their followers (current team, prospective team, vendors, guests, etc.) see it, but the next step for a great leader is to model the vision.  Modeling makes the picture come alive!

Leaders are always aware that they set the example by what they do and what they don’t do.

I remember how hard it was for me to understand the power of my example for others around me.  Back when I was in my early 20s, I tried hard to separate my personal life from my leadership position.  But the truth is, those around me kept watching me and called me out on inconsistencies.   I was fortunate enough to learn pretty early in my life that what you do matters more than what you say.

Now, with the boom of social media, I’ve seen many struggle with the Law of the Picture.  They try hard to ‘preach’ something on social media, without backing it up with their lifestyles or they allow who they really are to come out on social media losing the respect of those around them at work.

The law of the picture is universal leadership law.  The bigger your impact, the more magnified your flaws will be.  Your character and your action matter.  If you desire to be a great leader, you can’t neglect the Law of the Picture.  As you strive to improve as a leader, remember these things:

1.)  Followers are always watching what you do

People tend to mimic the behaviors of their leaders.  When a leader demonstrates behaviors that lead to success, people that follow mimic those behaviors and succeed as well.

Followers are always watching what you do. Your actions speak louder than your words.  If you want your followers to work harder, show them how. If you want your followers to be on time or park in a certain place, lead by example.  If you want your followers to honor their commitment, it’s about time for you to set the example.  Because if you’re late for your appointments, fail to deliver on your promises or can’t be counted to deliver within the deadline, guess what will come back to you.

As a leader, recognize that people tend to model behaviors that you display. People tend to believe what they see not necessarily what they hear. You convince people by what you do not by what you say.

2.)  It’s easier to teach what’s right than to do what’s right

That’s just part of leadership.  We’ve all been there at one point of our lives (or some more often).   I’ll always remember how teachers and doctors around me kept talking about the danger of alcohol and smoking, but they were smoking themselves.   I couldn’t wrap my head around it.   I’ve seen many peers follow what they’d seen instead of what they’d heard.  Hey, it’s often easier to teach what’s right than to do what’s right. Teaching is easy compared to living. It’s not likely that you can teach something to others that you cannot live yourself.

3.)  We should work on changing ourselves before trying to improve others

Leaders are responsible for the performance of their people. However, the great danger lies in the temptation to try to change others without first making changes to yourself. To remain a credible leader, I must always work first, hardest and longest on changing myself. This is neither easy nor natural, but it is essential.

4.)  The most valuable gift a leader can give is being a good example

John Maxwell gets it right when he says that ‘Leadership is more caught than taught.’  The majority of leaders emerge because of the impact made on them by established leaders who modeled leadership and mentored them.  It’s important to continue to learn from great models, but also to set a great example for others who follow you.

5.)  Take Action

What are the three to five things you wish your people did better than they currently do now?  List them.  Email THAT LIST to me as a response to this email.  Now, grade your performance on each.  If your self-scores are low, then you need to change your behavior.  If your self-scores are high, then you need to make your example more visible to your people.  Adjust accordingly.

Lead The Way!