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Words matter. But your behaviour matters more.

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Don’t tell them – show them. Words matter. But your behaviour matters more. 

You might be an executive team wanting to change the culture of your organisation. You may be a leader looking to improve your leadership in some way. Or perhaps you have received some unexpected and hard-to-hear feedback in your latest 360 – and you’re keen to show everyone you can change for the better.

By all means, say the thing. Tell them you’re keen to make positive change. Share with them your intention.

But don’t do that unless you are also working out how – the concrete behaviours that you are committed to taking.

It’s one thing to tell people that “things are going to be different around here”. But I have heard employees say to me that they’ve heard that spiel before. They have been on the receiving end of broken promises and grand speeches with little action afterwards. It erodes trust. As I mention in this post, cognitive trust (doing what you say you will do) is paramount when you’re trying to build trust.

So, once you’ve figured out what behaviours you need to change – and this is the hard, but fundamental part – do them. Practice better, observable, and specific behaviours that will show others that you are changing for the better. Consistently, regularly, over time – all the while getting feedback.

That may sound difficult (and I won’t pretend that it’s not!), so here are three ideas for how you can more effectively show them, not just tell them:

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