Ask Skip: How Can I Get Managers to See Themselves as Role Models and “Walk Their Talk?”

All Ask Skip” Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here!

This is a common issue I see in a lot of organizations. Leaders with a “do as I say not as I do” approach. Often time it comes from first time managers who now feel they have to manage with a “command and control” style because they don’t know how to do it any other way. They default to their new found “position power” and authority.

Instead, what they need to understand is that they will get greater results from their team if they use their “personal and relationship power” and it starts by gaining the respect and trust of their team members by “walking the talk” that comes out of their mouth (I’ll be dealing with this issue throughout my “Confident Leaders Training Camp,” which you can learn more about here.)

If this is a significant problem for some members of your team, the first thing we need to do for any “problem” is to identify “cause.” And, the first step for this type of issue is to first identify if this is an issue of “willingness” vs. “ableness.”

By “ableness” I mean are they aware of the appropriate behavior(s) they should be modelling at all times and are they even aware that they should be modelling appropriate behaviors.

And, by “willingness” if you are certain the answer to the above two question is “yes,” then you have an “attitude” problem that needs to be addressed.


Next, you have to make it important enough for them to do so. By that I mean you have to have clearly identified what their performance expectations are based on.

  • What is in their job description?
  • What are their job performance expectations?
  • What are the specific performance standards they are expected to achieve?
  • How are they compensated and is it directly related to the performance and behaviors of themselves and their team members? How are the rewards/punishments aligned to obtain desired performance?
  • Have the behavior standards for their employees been clearly identified and communicated (e.g., do the regular employees know and understand what the appropriate expected behaviors are?)?

If the above answers are aligned with the behaviors and performance expectations of their staff members, the managers would need to ensure their staff members are performing up to the expected standard.

If they are not, then you have a performance improvement discussion with the managers to identify the cause of their staff under performing.

Have them ID the issues at first and try to fix them. Give them a specific time period within which you need to see improvement from their teams in very specific, measurable and identifiable ways (it can’t be subjective and open to opinion).

If they are not successful within the time period you both agree upon is reasonable, ask them if they’d would be open to constructive feedback and suggestions as to how they could improve the performance of their team members.

With this process I think you can see they are pretty much in control of their own destiny. They have to first see themselves as leaders.

And, this starts with you setting the expectation that they are leaders and they need to get specific, measurable results through others. You do that by setting up the system with clear performance roles, goals behavior expectations by going through a-e above.

To work specifically on this and other leadership strategies to improve overall performance on your team you are going to want to participate in the “Confident Leaders Training Camp” either the live TeleClass version or the home study version that will soon be available, learn more here.

If anyone would like further clarification on this please feel free to leave a comment below and start a discussion for all to learn from.

’til next time, make it a great day!


If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.