Leaders – what are your teams learning without your knowledge?

Not long ago I was having a drink with a friend and we were chatting about her teenage son as he just wouldn’t stop using his phone at meal times.

“It’s driving me crazy, I just don’t know what I can do to get through to him.” She said.

“Oh it’s just teenagers” I replied and then I stopped for a moment.

You don’t use your phone at dinner do you?” I asked

“Yes, but that’s different. It’s work!”


How you behave at work is sending a clear message of what you expect from others – whether you realise it or not.

We all know that actions speak louder than words – but how often do we give it some thought in terms of what we do every day. The truth of the matter is that from the moment you arrive at work, until the moment you leave, as the leader your actions are teaching your team how to behave and what you expect from them…even if it’s not the message you want to be known for.

Yes, your heart and intentions might be in the right place, and yes you really might not want your team to fall into the trap of working the same way you do but your actions may well be saying the complete opposite.

It doesn’t matter how many times you say to your team

“Just because I work long hours doesn’t mean you have to.”  

Your actions are saying something different.

It doesn’t matter how often you say

‘Don’t answer your emails after work’  especially if you’re replying to them out of hours,

And it doesn’t matter how often you tell your team to have a break, especially if you’re eating at your desk every day or skipping lunch altogether.

What you do and how you behave really does matter.


What are you teaching your team without realising it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…let me know by leaving a comment.


  1. Michelle Speakman

    This has rung a New Year bell with me, I made a conscious decision last year to always leave my desk for a lunch break even if it wasn’t the full hour that is set aside. Last year my team tended to eat at their desks; a year on and things have changed eating at the desk is now the exception. I am now reviewing another behaviour that is giving my team the wrong message and let’s see where that leads us to in 2019

    • barbaranixon

      Well done for spotting this Michelle. Let me know how you get on 🙂

  2. Nicole

    It’s so true both as a leader at work and as a parent: actions speak louder than words. Your article has me thinking about what my team at work and my kids have been learning from me. Thanks for the reminder 😊

    • barbaranixon

      Thanks so much for your comment Nicole 🙂


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