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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Walking the Walk After Talking the Talk of Leadership

Written By: Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie | No Comments

There’s a great old Latin expression that really hit me right between the eyes about nine years ago, as I was giving a lot of thought to how to “act like a leader.”

“Solvitur ambulando” 

It means, literally, “it is solved by walking.”

What it really meant to me, and should mean to you, is that simple act of getting up off of your chair and walking the walk.

And just showing up.

That’s right, walking into the staff room, or the break room, or just over to the next desk or cubicle.

And what do you do once you get there?  Just chat folks up.  Listen.  Laugh.  Bring them breakfast or lunch, or just for a cup of joe.

Too many times we complicate the ACT of leadership – yes, we need to have vision. Yes, we need to be inspiring.  But sometimes, we just need to be THERE.

(And certainly, in this technological age, the “THERE” could be virtual – a Skype chat, a GoToMeeting gathering, or a Google+ hangout – anything that puts you “face-to-face.”)

When solvitur ambulando kicked in for me when I was an SVP of Operations for a cable TV company, I knew what I had to do. I ended up traveling to every single office we had and talking to nearly every single one of the 1,100 employees I was responsible for.

Many of those conversations were simply, “Thank you” or “Have a great day” – but a lot more were deep and meaningful.  And I couldn’t have done my job without them.

I worked hard during those “stop bys” to deliver a message that every single person could make a difference and that we were “all in this together.”

I ended up losing count of how many times I heard my teammates tell me, “I really appreciate your being here – we NEVER used to see corporate people under the previous owners.

Bingo.  Things became “solved by walking.”

Today, I’m a small business leader and entrepreneur in Portland, Oregon and this principle is still very much in play for me, every single day.

I rarely spend a lot of time at my desk – I’m typically walking around the city with my backpack in tow, meeting with current and potential clients, and taking coffees and lunches to promote our SOBCon live event.

I’m out THERE, leveraging the big advantage of being face-to-face and showing that what’s behind my small business is more than just words and a website.

What my experiences have taught me are that in any business situation, big or small, words can surely kick-start your momentum towards the top of the mountain, but to get to the summit, they have to be reinforced with action.

Talking the talk will never work unless you walk a lot more of the walk.

Solvitur ambulando!

So many of us stay behind our laptop. Are you going to get out more now? Or do you already try to spend time with people face-to-face? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Article written by Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie
Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie is the Managing Partner of Inside-Out Thinking (IOT), a professional & business development partnership that focuses on leadership, business execution, and customer care. He most recently completed a successful 23-year tenure in the cable television business, and has extensive experience in cable field operations, customer care, call centers, and financial analysis. For the past 6 years he has also published a popular blog on business & leadership, TerryStarbucker.com, and with his partner at IOT, Liz Strauss, is a co-founder of SOBCon, a biannual business conference based in Chicago and Portland OR, and one of the best learning & development forums for small and medium-sized business owners in the U.S.