This past week I was painting around the house when I found myself distracted by my daughter who kept trying to climb the ladder. And no matter how many times I would tell her not to, the moment I climbed up the ladder she would begin doing the same. As a parent there is obviously something frightening about your 1 year old climbing a ladder, not to mention it's frustrating when she refuses to listen. So caught up in the fear of her getting hurt and the irritation of her not listening, it hit me - she's simply repeating what she sees me doing.
I wonder how many parents find themselves experiencing fear or frustration as their children get in harms way or refuse to listen, when in reality the child is simply mimicking what they continue to see their parents do. The same reality can be true in leadership. And in both arenas, parents and leaders are asking the question "how do I help them understand?" Or, "how do I correct their behavior?" When the appropriate question may be "what am I doing that's setting a bad example and confusing them?"
Like standing on a ladder telling your child to not climb up, perhaps you will find that you often attempt to correct the behavior (s) of one who is simply mimicking what they observe you doing. Just know in order to correct the behavior of someone else, you must first correct that very behavior in yourself.