We talk a lot in communication about behavior. My focus is on the behavior of internal stakeholders. I don’t really think there is much reason for internal communication to exist beyond driving desired and necessary behavior.
Sometimes the best way to help internal stakeholders, namely employees, to understand what behaviors are required is to show them. This need is where the “walk the walk” concept originated. We tell our leaders “don’t just tell them, show them by doing it yourself.” Let your actions speak louder than your words.
This whole philosophy was brought home to me again in Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential. His adventurous spirit for food and cooking was borne out of childhood experiences and the example of his family. His kitchen and leadership skills were honed on the job.
My mother viewed cooking as a chore. It wasn’t until my parents retired that they started cooking together. My passion for cooking and food didn’t really blossom until I met my husband. He and I concertedly discussed making food and cooking an integral part of our family experience. We’ve agreed that we have to walk the walk.
We cook a lot. We get our kids involved in cooking with us. We try new recipes all the time and involve the kids in decisions about what we like and don’t like. My husband is brilliant at making stuff up.
Yes, Bourdain went to school, but he talks about learning by observation, watching the masters at work. It’s an important lesson for communicators too â€“ one we should use for ourselves and one we can easily use with the stubborn executive. If you recommend the book to that stubborn executive, do so with one large caveat: there is a lot of cussing. It’s downright painful at times. But, look past that, and the walk-the-walk lesson is loud and clear.