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Actions versus words

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't," Margaret Thatcher said.

It's the old "actions speak louder than words" philosophy; those who have to talk about their power are working to convince themselves -- as well as others -- that they really have it and know how to use it. But people become leaders in the eyes of others through their actions, not through their job titles or their rhetoric.

When you think of a true leader, who comes to mind? Who inspires you to be part of their team? What gives that person his or her power? What is his or her uniqueness, and how can you put such skills and capabilities to work for you? Alfred Lord Tennyson called power "self-reverence, self-knowledge and self-control." An organization can bestow a leadership title, but only an individual can earn it.

Identify one element of your leadership style that you would like to focus on in the coming week. Make a list of 3 or 4 specific actions that you could undertake that would help you hone that element. Remember, it's those actions that make all the difference, not the words!

- Shirley Poertner


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