Do you walk your talk? Are you ethical? Do you say one thing and then do another?
When I was EA to an SVP, I had one of the branch secretaries (that is the word we used back then) that I looked up to, even though I had the higher position, salary, and respect. I modeled myself after her (she was unaware she was my role model).
Her name was Freda (that is her real name). She was about 30 years older than I was; she dressed beautifully and was always calm, reassuring, and professional. I never caught her making any mistakes; she was the go-to person if you wanted an answer or anything done quickly. I wanted to be her when I grew up.
I watched what she did and how she did it. She was extremely well-respected, and everyone deferred to her when situations arose.
I learned ethics from Freda. She showed us all exactly what to do, and from her example, we all learned. I haven’t seen her in 30 years, and I’d like her to know how much I respected her and what she taught me.
- Model what you expect. Freda modeled how she expected to be treated. When she treated others with respect, she got respect back. She never bad-mouthed anyone, never shared gossip, and always took the high road. Since she didn’t throw anyone under the bus, we never threw her under the bus, nor did I (we) gossip or bad-mouth anyone else when we were with her. I don’t remember if she ever called anyone out for doing it; I just remember we didn’t do it when she was around. When we were with her, we were better than that.
Her actions spoke louder than words. What do your actions say?
[ctt template=”3″ link=”44va3″ via=”yes” ]Your actions speak louder than words. What are they saying?[/ctt]
- Be consistent. Freda wasn’t just her perfect self when the boss was around; this was just who she was even when no one was watching.
While I did my best to learn from Freda, I was far from perfect. I once shared a confidence with another co-worker that I shouldn’t have, and I regretted that I wasn’t as professional as I should have been. I did learn from that experience (it caused me a lot of angst and grief) and never repeated that experience. I want to think that Freda learned the hard way, too (it just makes me feel better). From that point forward, I hoped to be consistent in my behavior like Freda was. I no longer have weak moments where I share things or do things I know I shouldn’t. If I said something, I’d say it to you. Otherwise, I just don’t say them.
James Allen said, “Circumstances do not determine a man; they reveal him.”
Don’t use excuses, and instead, be consistent with your behavior.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”3IDy5″ via=”yes” ]Don’t use excuses when it comes to ethics.[/ctt]
- Watch for guilt. If you feel guilt, there is a disconnect between your integrity and ethics.
If you have lunch with a co-worker and tell them about your job, what you do, and your company, you should feel proud of what you shared. But if you share that when the boss is away, you have longer lunches, or when you are working from home, you have no qualms about slacking off or share excuses as how you can avoid joining online meetings just because you don’t feel like going, you likely feel a little guilty about it. At least, I hope you feel a little guilty about it.
Walking your talk means that if they were doing a reality show about you and your company, you wouldn’t be remotely worried about people watching you. You know you made the right choices, behaved professionally and respectfully, and just maybe, became someone else’s role model.
Thank you, Freda. I learned a lot the hard way, but by comparing myself to you, I avoided many mistakes and messy situations.