Leadership

To Build Trust as a Leader, Inspire With Words Backed by Action

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In Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s character (William Wallace) cries “Alba gu bràth" as he and his men forge boldly into battle. The Gaelic phrase, which means roughly "Scotland forever,” gave the troops something to rally around and inspired them to remember why they were fighting. Such a rallying cry is useful in the battle of day-to-day business as well because it brings commitment, emotion and grit to the team’s goals.

But there’s one big, fat catch. Imagine the troops geared up for battle, ready to bare their bums and risk their lives, but William Wallace at home sipping a pint. Not only would the movie never have been made, but the people never would’ve followed. Leaders must be involved for initiatives to gain traction. They must believe what they’re teaching and eat their own dog food. (I’ll explain.)

Related: 5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style

Think about the areas in your life that generate the most passion and commitment from you. For me, it’s the belief that I create my own success. I believe it so wholeheartedly that I never accept an excuse or victim mindset from myself, my kids or my employees. This belief is tied to my own experiences, and I have personal stories to support it. I can’t expect my team to buy in to this concept if I don’t believe it for myself.

A strong belief brings emotion with it. Emotion is necessary to create buy-in. Think about it: Your favorite movies are the ones that make you cry, or laugh, or want to throw your popcorn at the screen. Emotion makes us care. When we care, we can ask our team to care without compromising our integrity. This positions the team to reach the company’s goals.

Related: 4 Fundamentals to Inspire Leadership Within Your Company

Let’s face it: We all get tired sometimes and can lose sight of our goals or lose faith in even our strongest beliefs. This is equally true in the office. A strong company needs grit to hang on to the beliefs when they need them most.

By walking the walk, you will inspire your team at the beginning of the journey and will also spur them to action when the momentum slows. This is where you have to eat your own dog food. This saying is accredited to Microsoft, who originally used it to refer to software companies using their own development tools. Over three decades later, this vivid image describes any area where you must practice what you preach. If you truly believe in your product, you will use it in your own life and business.

So rally your troops. Remind them why they work the long hours or pursue a client or try new strategies yet again. Your rallying cry will bring commitment, emotion and grit, but only if you lead out front by your actions, not only by your words. Believe your own message. Enjoy your own dog food.

Related: Leadership Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.