At the end of a team building module, one of several in a leadership training course I used to give, we would often play a quick game called, “The Sound of One Hand Clapping”. You tell people that you will count to three and say “GO” and then they all should clap at the same time, in unison, so that everyone clapping together sounds like one hand clapping. You remind them that you will say “1, 2, 3, GO” and then they should clap. Then you proceed to say “1, 2, 3” and then you clap yourself. Then you say “GO”. Inevitably, people will clap when you clap, and not when you say “GO”. A couple of people always manage to wait for the GO word, but for the most part, people will follow your actions rather than your words. The message is that actions speak louder than words. They do and we all know it.
We use that game at the end of workshops because we want people to go home and, rather than tell everyone what they did, demostrate it through their actions. If it is leadership, then let’s see it. Talking about leadership is not enough. Great leaders can make great speeches, but great speeches don’t necessarily mean great leaders. When leadership is demonstrated, then we all clap!