They won’t believe what you say. They will believe what you do. But, even if what you do matches what you say, you will eventually falter if it doesn’t match your own fundamental beliefs. It only works when what you believe and do and say align. This is why “Be Do Say” leadership is so powerful.

Nothing kills credibility faster than not practicing what is preached. A leader underscores discipline and timeliness, yet shows up late for meetings. Or a leader proclaims people to be the most important assets, then instigates layoffs to boost profitability.

Disconnects always get caught and result in heavy penalties in terms of internal and external credibility, reputation, and business impact. Cases in point: One of the best trained, most experienced politicians, the UK’s Gordon Brown, caught on tape calling one of his constituents a “bigot” right after a nice conversation with her; BP ’s Tony Hayward  bemoaning, wanting his life back after his company’s Gulf of Mexico oil platform blows up, killing 11 of his staff.

Pizza Margareta

Margarita Pizza – Wikipedia

It is remarkable and powerful when a leader gets it right. Nick Sarillo of Nick’s Pizza & Pub, an Illinois-based family dining business, told me he buys into the concept of BRAVE leadership.

The overriding message, I think, is that business leaders must explicitly define their organization’s purpose. Defining our purpose first is critical because it shapes every other aspect of “Brave Leadership.” Your organization’s purpose shapes behaviors, relationships, attitudes and the work environment. The purpose, “why” we do what we do, creates a meaningful place to work.  The values are also important in creating an intentional culture because they are “how” we do the “what,” whether it is pizza or widgets or accounting.

I believed him on one level. And then I went through his website and came across an article about the uncertain future of one of his stores:

Barring some sort of miracle, we are going to run out of cash to pay our vendors and team members over the next couple of weeks and will have to close (one of our sites).

It is one thing to preach the importance of transparency. It’s a whole different game to come this clean, this publicly. Nick does what he says and fundamentally believes in what he’s saying. It’s a key part of his success.

The prescription is relatively straightforward:



Of course it’s important to get your message right. People listen to your words. Think them through. Use them to guide the ongoing, iterative conversations that mark communication today.



Everything communicates. What you say and don’t say. What you do and don’t do. If you can’t follow through on your words with actions, don’t say them.



Underlying everything are your core values and beliefs. Don’t get into a situation where you are saying things you don’t believe in. Even if you follow through on them with actions, you will eventually get caught.

If you believe it, say it, and do it, and they will follow.

This is an example of the heart of The New Leader’s PlaybookBRAVE Leadership

We’re all new leaders all the time. So remember all the time that leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. With that in mind, BRAVE leaders pay attention to their Behaviors, Relationships, Attitude, Values, and Environment – all the time.