“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last night, I went to a newly-formed entrepreneur’s group event and in a very engaging conversation, I shared a perspective on leadership.
Ahhh, the concept of leadership. Yeah, yeah…we’ve all ‘heard’ the talks about whether you’re a leader or a follower (likely on the heels of “if your friends were jumping off a cliff…”), but I invite you to take a moment to really consider how you’re a leader.
I’m not asking whether you’re an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a small business owner, or even a parent or the organizer amongst your friends. No matter the label we’re all some form of ‘leader.’ The basis of what I’m really asking is how you live this role, and even deeper, how this connects to your public relations effort.
In any leadership role, we set examples, right? So, do your emails consistently have typos? Do you look your server in the eye when he approaches the table? Do you keep your promises? How often do you respond to people who may not serve a need at the current moment? Are you nasty to your vendors?
Whatever you do emanates outward like ripples in a pond. As leaders, seemingly minor infractions can send subliminal – or even clear – signals to those around you that can slowly tarnish your reputation. Even worse, they can tarnish the reputation of your organization.
Are you known for yelling at employees? If so, have you thought about how they talk about you and their jobs when they’re ‘off duty’? Are you a ‘sustainable’ business, but work extensive hours to the detriment (and sustainability) of your friends and family…and if so, how ‘sustainable’ are you, really? Do your employees seem uninspired? Well, perhaps you haven’t been inspired yourself.
It’s your actions, not necessarily your words, that communicate your true motives to your employees, customers, family and friends. Eye contact with a server shows your dining partner that you respect others. Taking a call from your partner in a meeting (assuming it isn’t excessive) displays to your clients that your family is appropriately prioritized.
Each positive action contributes to positive reinforcement of your brand and your bottom line. Because this, my friends, is the very core of what it means to relate to your publics, and ultimately, is the foundation of a healthy word-of-mouth marketing effort.