One Rule That Just Doesn’t Work For Managers (or Parents) Anymore

Do as I say, not as I do.”

There was a time when a parent who smoked, drank excessively, cursed, etc. could demand – and often expect – a different standard of behavior from their children simply by telling them, ” I want you to have a better life than the one I’m living, so don’t follow in my footsteps and make the same mistakes I’ve made.”

No one exactly knows when that all changed, but the referendum on being able to raise good kids by providing a bad example of what not to do has passed.

Similarly, the time has also passed for a boss to manage his/her employees under the “I can do this, but don’t you go thinking it’s okay for someone at your level to do” axiom.

Fair or unfair, like it or not, your example is all that matters. In fact, what you do is speaking so loudly that it’s drowning out everything you say.

  • Want them to look, act, and conduct themselves like a professional? Model that behavior.
  • Want them to smile and be friendly to your customers? Smile and be friendly to them.
  • Want them to be 100% honest with you? Be honest with them, and don’t break your promises.
  • You want them to show up for work on time? Exemplify reliability and punctuality in all you do.

What happens to managers who don’t walk their talk?

Last month, an angry employee left this note for his manager on the front door of the convenience store where he worked. Both the photo (left) and the story went viral running in hundreds of newspapers and media outlets across the country.Angry employee note

While this is amusing to most, business owners and leaders who dig a bit deeper will alarmingly discover that this is not an isolated incident.

On Reddit alone, more than 2,700 comments and rants were posted from readers who have experienced similar problems at their workplace.

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Obviously, poor work ethic habits cannot be attributed to any specific generation or demographic. And managers who exhibit poor work ethic behaviors are going to be called out in increasing numbers by smartphone carrying employees and customers.

It’s time to notify parents, teachers, and managers that the “do as I say…” rule is no longer valid. It is obsolete. Extinct. Dead.

However, there is one axiom for leaders that is even more relevant today than when it was first said centuries ago, and it still works like a charm: “Lead by example.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s blog Chester on Point

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement, and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the millennial mindset, and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 4 leadership books including his newly released Amazon #1 Bestseller On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out.  Learn more at and follow him at @eric_chester


2 Comments on “One Rule That Just Doesn’t Work For Managers (or Parents) Anymore

  1. Outstanding article Eric. It captures what I believe is one of the biggest sources of employee disengagement: careless treatment of employees. Whether it’s coming in late for meetings that the employee is expected to be prompt at, not bothering to respond to employee emails or voice mails re: to issues that are important to the employee, or taking going-the-extra-mile for granted, such carelessness and thoughtlessness breeds indifference, or…as I like to say:

    “If you are careless with people, you teach them to care less.”

    Thanks again!

    David Lee

    1. Thanks, David. I like your quote. I’m eager to learn more about your work and will visit your site.
      Feel free to check out my other videos, blog posts, etc. at

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