Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege to serve in various leadership roles and one thing I always kept in mind as I approached each one is, “del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.” It’s a Spanish-language proverb I learned when I was a young student that refers to the profound gap between what we say and what we do. This deep chasm flanked by what we promise on one end and what we deliver on the other is what defines not only our character and integrity, but what defines us as leaders.
In each of my leadership roles, and in my personal life for that matter, I knew that if I wanted to succeed and bring about real change, my words had to mean something. I knew that my words had to be followed by actions directly aimed at meeting my goals and my promises. Leading by example and not just words, is critical to personal growth and successful leadership.
But that isn’t always easy. In fact, we are living in an era filled with fake news, alternative facts and lost credibility. That is why we can’t simply rely on the words of others, we need to hold our leaders accountable. And our leaders need to hold themselves accountable. Their words should reflect their actions.
The line of demarcation in our culture is being redrawn. And we can contribute to that change in our own lives. Sometimes we find ourselves making promises we can’t or don’t keep, be it promises to ourselves or to those that depend on us. We don’t always live up to our words.
That is why I challenge our young leaders to hold yourself accountable. Make sure that your words mean something. Make sure that what you say is followed by thoughtful preparation and meaningful action. Live up to your character and integrity. We need it now more than ever.