The Power of Example – two reasons why it is imperative that we practice what we preach

“He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.” Francis Bacon

You can get to the top of our profession and game by being conniving, ambitious, and ruthless. You really can. And it may be something you can live comfortably with. The name of this website may even suggest that I am willing to take the most direct route to success and accomplishment. After all what is more practical than doing whatever it takes to get whatever you want.

But I have not, and have not ever suggested that the validation of effectiveness is results. There are rules by which effective and principle-centered leaders play.

Most of us have worked for Machiavellian leaders at one time or another, perhaps you are working for one right now? If nothing more, you can learn from the power of a bad example. So I’ll say it again just to be sure I’ve said it clearly, expediency, as defined as the quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral, is not validated by reaching an objective.

Fundamental to my definition and application of practical leadership is not expediency but a noble, worthy, wholesome, and better future gained by means whereby everyone is benefited and no one must compromise their principles to get there.

The ends do not justify the means…never have…never will.

Therefore, effective leaders do the right things in the right way so that the right outcome is realized in the right time.

Leadership is:

To get people to want what it is that you’ve got because you reflect with your life what it is that you say that you ought to be.


Don’t give it to them but show them how to get it for themselves.

Here it is why we practice what we preach:

To get people to want what it is that you’ve got, people have to be able to see it. Your associates and employees are not blind and they certainly are not stupid (well, most of them aren’t most of the time, anyway). Motivation is like an internal combustion engine. The fuel is applied to the right place at the same time a spark reaches the cylinder to cause the release of energy to make the machine produce. You, the effective good example apply some of the fuel and all of the spark. To internalize this, your associates and employees will gain this from your example because they like what they see, identify with who it is that you are and what it is that you stand for. You, by your example create

  1. Inspiration – a dream comes alive
  2. Motivation – energy is released to move in the direction of the dream
  3. Aspiration – effort is applied when the person determines to reach for and attain the possibilities your example has projected.

To maintain the inspiration, motivation, and aspiration you have to reflect what it is that you say by what it is that you do. Okay, maybe the grammar isn’t the most scholarly, but the principle is. You gotta walk the talk. All the time. The fastest way to kill the engine is to reveal that you are not what you’ve led everyone to believe. How do you avoid that? Not by duplicity! I have never suggested and do not suggest now that we as leaders ever engage in manipulation of the facts or circumstances to mislead. It is commonly done and I think it reveals more than the truth about who someone is, what they’ve said, or what they are doing.

It reveals an ingrained disrespect for the associate and employee.  When a boss tries to mislead or hide the truth s/he has little respect for the intelligence of the one(s) s/he is trying to mislead. When a boss tries to mislead or hide the truth s/he has little respect for the worth of the one(s) s/he is trying to mislead. You see, if we leaders and managers hold those who work for us and with us in high regard, we would never live, work, act, talk in any manner except what the circumstances demand ­­­­­- the best always and ever.

On the obverse, what you do is unmistakable evidence of who you are and what you believe. Anyone can say anything, can espouse the most grand and glorious rhetoric. It is what they do that is the evidence of who they are and what they really believe.

There are bad examples up to wazoo…but there are really good ones too. We tend to remember the bad ones more because they are a like a dark stain on a light garment. When the calling is high, the responsibilities upon the leader are heavy.

Now you may object that your role as a leader or manager is not so grand. Perhaps you do not lead an organization. Perhaps you manage a crew that stamps widgets out of whatzits. Well, history has proven the efficacy and worthiness of products well-made. Regardless of the grandness of the title or the exalted position of the office, it is the attitude and perspective of the person with the mantle of leader or manager.

I’d like to hear about the good ones though and so would your fellow readers. Leave a comment below and I’ll post it for the others. I’ve had to disable automatic posting because of spammers who daily fill my inbox with offers of marriage from Russian women and sure thing investment opportunities. But I do look at them all so I’ll read yours too.

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