Have you ever noticed that most people say one thing and do another?
Thinking back to your childhood, you probably encountered someone who told you, "Do what I say, not what I do." And chances are, there have been moments when you've done something similar.
The world is full of people saying that they are trying their best, when in fact they're not. The truth is that most people still live like adolescents--telling their parents one thing and doing another.
And we've all been there. Remember all of those movies you never saw but conned your way through a made-up synopsis to avoid punishment? Do you recall embellishing certain aspects of events to portray yourself as more favorable in the eyes of someone you cared about?
We've all done it. But some of us--the ones motivated to become better people and professionals--have grown out of that tendency. Because we know that congruence is part of becoming a better, more mature person.
And becoming a better person translates into becoming a more effective leader.
An important but often underappreciated aspect of leadership is congruence between speech and action. Between values and behavior. And between thoughts and feelings.
Let's back up.
When you were a child, what did you think of the person who told you to do what they say and not what they do?
Perhaps you still respected and admired them. But as a grown adult who is less than pleased with authority breathing down your neck, when you see a leader preaching one thing and then practicing something different, you lose respect.
You start zoning out. And you stop valuing that person's opinion. Because you know that on some fundamental level they're full of it.
Yes, their title matters. Yes, you're more likely to do what someone says if they have power over you. And yet it's soul crushing to have a leader--someone you're supposed to follow and look up to--behave in ways that are in stark contrast to their stated values.
It creates a culture of hypocrisy that threatens the very fabric of your company. It shows employees that honesty, transparency, and congruence don't really matter.
It sets the precedent that employees can take shortcuts. That they can do whatever they want so long as they don't get caught. And in doing so, it invites termites to make a home in the foundation of your corporate culture.
No one wants to work for a boss who gives lip service to aspirations and then doesn't follow up with meaningful action.
Seeing people like that calling themselves leaders because of their title is sickening. They aren't leaders--they're sheep. Just like everyone else.
Real leaders--the ones who inspire, motivate, and accelerate growth--act with congruence and authenticity. They do what they say. And practice what they preach.
Because when you do those things--when you live according to your values and ensure that your actions are aligned with your speech--you deepen your presence.
Your energy field is palpable. You change the mood of a room just by walking in. Your focus and attention yield respect and admiration from onlookers.
When you're in tune with yourself and listening to your highest intuition, your words carry more weight. People take your word as truth rather than opinion. They do what you ask of them because they believe in you even more than your words.
That's the truth about real leaders--their presence is far more valuable than their speech. Their congruence alone installs hope and motivates people to challenge themselves to continue growing just as they have.
Because living in congruence means you've moved beyond the tendencies of your childhood. You've grown into the type of person who is not only in charge of others but has conquered the challenge of mastering yourself.
In this world of overstimulation and superficial pleasure, self-mastery is difficult. It takes insight and intuition. It takes passion and motivation. It takes self-compassion and patience. And lots of repetition.
Moving beyond your impulses to delay gratification and trust your feelings takes many decades of self-work. But that's what makes congruence so valuable--it's far more real than words. It's something that people around you can feel.
And, remember, people won't always remember what you say, but they will remember how they felt in your presence. That's why congruence is important.
With the intense pressure from shareholders and evolving market demands, leaders are asked to become robotic. To increase revenue at all costs. To do whatever it takes to improve the bottom line.
And the problem with that thinking is that companies are not robots--they are complex webs of real people. Complete with feelings, flaws, and fluctuating motivation.
Leaders in today's rapidly changing world can't only focus on profit--they must also focus on themselves. They must continue challenging themselves to do what they say, practice what they preach, and live with congruence.
That's what great leaders do. And it's how they distinguish themselves from everyone else.