Your Say/Do Ratio

Regular readers of my newsletter and my books know that my cornerstone saying and belief is that respecting and trusting your people is the foundation of all good management. The character of your organization will never exceed your own — you must make sure that you exhibit every trait and quality you want your people to exhibit.

Gary Burnison looks at trust from a slightly different angle, but I think we’re in agreement about its importance. (Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry, a management consulting and executive placement firm. He also publishes a weekly newsletter.)

Trust, Burnison says, is “an investment, earning interest over time.” It is based on “character, capability, and follow-through.”

He refers to your “say/do ratio” and insists that the ratio should be exactly 1-to-1. Do what you say and say what you mean. Consistency is king: people know they can trust a leader when they see consistent action. “Then, and only then,” he says, “will they mirror what we say and do.”

“Moreover,” he continues, “when people work for a trustworthy leader, they are more likely to be motivated and inspired, show persistence when work is challenging, and learn from failures instead of being fearful of making mistakes.”

He concludes that trust “comes down to one simple, but profound statement: do it, mean it, say it, believe it—for we are only as good as the last promise kept.”

Q: Is your SAY/DO ratio 1-to-1?
Q: How can you improve your ratio?

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