Our Actions Betray our Intent

I have been thinking about this topic for a number of years,
and recently in my consulting practice, I have had a series of conversations
with a number of clients/leaders across varied industries, organizations and
roles where this theme continues to resonate. 
The dynamic of an organization or a leader’s “words” communicating one
set of “truth” (no “alt facts” reference intended) and that same
organization’s/leader’s “actions” communicating a different “truth” is
pervasive and damaging to organizations broadly.  While the “disconnect” between the “words”
and “actions” is debilitating, I want to suggest that in today’s business and
political climate, we must be reminded that our actions betray our intent, not
our words.
Looking over past essays, you can see that I have found my
way to this topic before and it continues to be an issue, and may be a growing
one across our landscape today.  Back in
2014, I commented on a discussion with a work associate where this
“words/actions disconnect” was front and center.  You can read more in the essay “Watch the
Feet,” at http://ift.tt/2rJFc3a.  While the dynamic is common, I am
coming to a point of view that the leaders who are actively engaged in this
“disconnection” are fooling themselves to think that they are somehow being
effective, impactful leaders with this behavior.  Maybe we have become too jaded or cynical
with all the “spin,” and “talking points,” with people being trained to “stay
on message” at all cost; but I suggest that broadly individuals are looking
past the “spin” and watching the actual actions to understand the true intent of
a leader or organization.
A living example of this is happening currently in the
summer of 2017 with an impending headcount reduction at major corporation
headquartered here in Atlanta.  The new
CEO has described these job eliminations as a way to “ help us do fewer things
better and help us support our operating units” as a “more lean and focused
corporate center.”  While the “words”
tell one story, the reality is that the company is struggling to grow, with the
stock price at the same split adjusted price as 19 years ago, and  the company needs to cut costs dramatically in
order to achieve its profit targets; thus is eliminating 1200 +/- jobs in its corporate
headquarters staff  of 5500, a 22%
reduction.  While the reality is harsh,
it is more the “truth” of the moment rather than some “process improvement”
initiative to make the corporate workplace more streamlined and efficient … the
actions betray the intent!
Closing with a word of inspiration from my old boss Bruce
Paynter, leaders and organizations can be amazing and powerful when their words
and actions actually align!  In one of my
last conversations with Bruce, he talked to me about the importance and impact
of authenticity in leaders and how organizations watch leaders carefully to
“see” the alignment of their words and actions. 
You can find that essay at, http://ift.tt/1Sn5A8r.  This need to stay “on the rail” where
one’s words and actions are aligned is vital to all of us as we seek to have a
positive impact on our teams/organizations/clients/families/etc. in the short
run, and leave a legacy that we will be proud of in the long run!  Let’s work to “stay on the rail” of alignment
and allow our actions and words (hopefully highly aligned) “betray our intent”
regularly and positively!