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Monica Wofford, CSP writes about leadership skills and issues and is the author of Contagious Leadership

Do you say “Do what I say, not what I do” or do you do what you say?

Has this ever happened to you? You are talking with an employee or maybe even your child and you share some bit of wisdom that it then occurs to you might be nice if you actually used yourself? Ouch! It’s even worse when they point that little tidbit out to you, but let’s just say you became aware of it first!

One of the key tenets of Contagious Leadership is that Leaders develop their character every day and while this is true, how it is accomplished can take many forms. Isn’t becoming aware of something you teach or talk about, but perhaps don’t do, a way of developing your character? You bet it is and here’s how to take advantage of just one of those tiny teachable moments. Let’s begin with you realizing something you suggested someone else do is something you haven’t been actually doing yourself… and then:

Think through how it applies to your current situation

Perhaps what you’ve shared is a valuable way to communicate with a team member. You gave someone else a workable solution, but then realized that it applied just as well to an area of your own life. Think through how it would apply and how you could use it.

Write down how it applies to your situation

Create for yourself a literal script of bullets or words that you could use in the very situation that has occurred to you. Be as detailed or poignant as you wish and recognize that the act of writing this down will help to solidify this information in your memory banks for future use.

Immediately put some part of your script into action

There is a reason that the scenario came to mind when you were sharing this information with someone else. Whatever you feel that reason might be (i.e. it was relevant, it was similar, it struck an emotional chord at the time, it was blatant hypocrisy), the key to gathering more useful information such as this, is to act on it. It’s nice to think about what you might do next time a scenario of this type occurs, but it is highly valuable, for perhaps a lifetime, to put your new action into place right now. As in now… yes… now.

If you’re still listening, then maybe you’ve already put your plan into action or are thinking through your plan. Or perhaps this just hasn’t ever happened to you. That latter possibility isn’t real likely as the phrase “those who can’t do, teach” is alive and well and I suspect so widely used because so many of us openly share our contagious wisdom, but equally as often, forget to use it. We ought to fix that. Those who can’t do… learn.

Stay contagious!

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