Good Habits #16: Walk the Walk

By | October 8, 2015

[October 8, 2015]  As a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant of Infantry, I was assigned to a platoon that had been without an officer for over a year.  Promises had been made to them and broken repeatedly.  To say they were a little disillusioned over how they were treated by unit officers is an understatement.  My senior Non-Commissioned Officer, “noncom” in Army slang, told me on my first day that his best advice was simply to Walk the Walk.

This 20th Century American saying is probably based on various old adages that epitomize the belief that “talk is cheap”, “deliver on your promises”, “actions speak louder than words”, and “practice what you preach”.  The contempt military folks have for a leader who talks but rarely follows up with any effective action is shared throughout the work world too.

“Fear not, my lord, we will not stand to prate; Talkers are no good doers: be assured.  We come to use our hands and not our tongues.” – Shakespeare’s Richard III, 1594

Walk the walk is almost always said in concert with talk the talk.  My noncom was telling me something important when he said “Most of the officers around here say they will support our platoon but only a few of them can talk the talk and walk the walk.”  They simply wanted me to deliver on my promises to lead them well in combat, as I had said I would do.  Backing up what I gave my word to do with action was what anyone wants.

The low popularity of political leaders here in the United States is largely the result of them making promises they rarely deliver on and to make it worse they continue to gloat about what they can do.  Leaders walk the walk; they just don’t talk the talk.  Leaders would do themselves and their followers a favor if they would spend more time doing things rather than simply talking about it.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.