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Walking the Talk

Making lofty statements and articulating noble intentions is quite in vogue in corporate circles today. There are people and high-ranking officials who make tall promises when it comes to indicating what it is that they want to do differently. Painting rosy pictures about the future and talking about resolutions made for environmental issues as well as corporate social responsibility are also commonplace. But when it comes to actually walking the talk, the number of people who really do what they have promised to, is just a small minority. There are many problems that management has with reference to credibility with its various stakeholders and a lot of it has to do with the failure of people to walk the talk and actuate what they have just been promising.

Take for example the case of a boss who makes a huge deal about honesty and integrity. This person may make it a point to praise the virtues of truth and transparency and shout it out from the rooftops. But when the same boss is caught siphoning off funds or accepting a bribe, subordinates are quick to realize that all the talks of honesty were just empty words and take it as just another case of someone failing to walk the talk. We can see many such instances of this in personal and professional life. A husband who keeps on promising to take his wife on an exotic holiday but fails to deliver on his words has reinforced an image of someone who makes tall promises and yet does not walk the talk.

It is said that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. This is quite true in the case of corporate and personal credibility. Credibility is built primarily by the ability to deliver on one’s promises and ensure that one does exactly what one says he/she will do. If you have promised your subordinate a raise if he/she delivers on performance and if he/she actually keeps that part of the deal, your credibility will depend hugely on your keeping your part. If you back out and make excuses or pretend to have never made the promise, you can wave your credibility a big goodbye. Words are cheap and anyone can make claims and promises, which don’t cost a rupee. But the person who follows through and perseveres to ensure that claims are delivered on, will be known as someone who walks the talk.

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