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The MacArthur Maxim

Despite the moniker "Dugout Doug," Douglas MacArthur was an exceedingly brave man who was often heedless of danger. In his book, "American Caesar," William Manchester tells about the time MacArthur was asked about why he remained in dangerous circumstances instead of seeking cover.

The General replied: "If I do it, the colonels will do it. If the colonels do it, the captains will do it, and so on." That's the MacArthur Maxim, what you do sets the example for the people who work for you.

The people who work for you will watch you carefully. They will pay attention to the things you pay attention to. They will be as ethical or not as you are. What you notice and reward, they will value.

That also means you have to make sure that your actions and your words deliver the same message. Which brings us to the Lazarus Corollary to the MacArthur Maxim.

Shelly Lazarus is Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide Chairman and CEO. She's also considered a role model by many people, especially women. She's not entirely comfortable with that, but she takes her role as a role model seriously indeed and she works consciously to make sure her actions and her words match up.

"I know that work-family balance is important I choose always to go to the school play, and field day and all that [because] it gives other women in the company, or clients, the confidence to be able to say, 'I'm going, too.'"

Your example is the most powerful tool you have to influence the behavior of the folks who work for you. Make sure you set the example you want and that the example you set and the one you talk about match up.


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