my team and i were enjoying a lovely breakfast on a hot summer's day in malawi a few summers a go when my eyes were drawn to the rustling i overheard coming from a tree near by. to my surprise, a monkey climbed down the tree, jumped on a table next to me and stole a piece of toast out of the hand of a fellow traveler. i guarded my toast in disbelief and laughed. seconds later, a second monkey came down, jumped on the same table, and grabbed the jam. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?", i thought. "if that third monkey comes down and grabs a knife, i'm gonna die" [of laughter that is, not from a monkey stabbing].
this whole experience baffled me for years until my friend reminded me of the familiar saying, "monkey see - monkey do" the other day. those monkeys had been up in that tree watching us humans lather our toast with strawberry jam, and decided to follow suit.
and somehow, in this random brain of mine, i linked this whole thing to leadership.
those you lead don't listen to what you say, they watch what you do.
i can't tell you the amount of times that i've been told to do something, only to have the one who told me to do it turn around and do the complete opposite, leaving me feeling confused and wondering whether or not i could trust them as my leader.
the truth is, we've all been there.
your boss stresses the importance of showing up to work on time, and comes in 20 minutes late each day himself.
your mom tells you to hang up your jacket, but throws hers on the kitchen chair when she gets home from work.
your prof emphasizes the importance in deadlines, and yet hands your paper back three months after you handed it in.
you get the picture.
truth be told, true leadership isn't proven in one's ability to 'talk the talk', but in their ability to 'walk the walk'.
because, well, monkey see - monkey do.