The new Tom Hanks' movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood captures the spirit of children's icon Mr. Rogers. Fred Rogers died a decade and a half ago, but his lessons are still relevant. In fact, they go well beyond parenting and child guidance. They can improve your business leadership.

One particular Mr. Rogers quote, from a candid mid-90s interview recently shared by writer Jose Arroyo, packs an invaluable leadership lesson.

Show, don't tell

Charlie Rose interviewed Rogers and asked him how you can help others build enough self-esteem to pursue their dreams. Rogers shared a big lesson from grad school.

I remember in the nursery school where I worked when I was doing my masters in childhood development. There is a man who would come every week to sculpt in front of the kids. The director said, 'I don't want you to teach sculpting. I just want you to do what you do and love it in front of the children. '

Rogers says the kids used their own clay more innovatively, more creatively and more often than any other time before or after.

"A great gift from any adult to a child, it seems to me, is to love what you do in front of the child," Rogers said.

"Attitudes are caught. They are not taught."

Bring your joy

We can't tell our employees, colleagues or even superiors to enjoy their work more. We can hardly convince ourselves. Instead, we are better off aligning with what we actually want to do and trusting that others will see the power in it. They then feel empowered to embrace their own strengths.

That is how you lead.

You want your purpose to be as transparent as a drop of water: Only take a sip, and you are completely understood. You don't need anything deep or heavy, any dramatic pronouncements. Marcus Aurelius said that your truth should be clear as soon as you step into a room, like a smelly goat. That strength is undeniable by the many, even by your detractors, and it is unattainable by the masses, even by the envious. It is pure and unyielding.

I have found this effective as a parent of two. You may find it working with the employees you guide. We can all make a bigger impact by not trying to tell people to change, but showing them that we are being our best.

Published on: Jul 26, 2019
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