by Anthony Semann

Words are just words, and in the world today there are consulting firms and marketing agencies employed to advise leaders about what to say and how to say things. However, in the end, all that matters is what you do, not what you say.

The words we use, the values we espouse, and the impressive language we throw around all pale into insignificance the moment we create a gap between our words and our actions. So this has prompted me to consider: How do we create workplaces and relationships that demonstrate integrity? How do we create workplaces and relationships that have a lasting impact? Perhaps the reality is that we have little influence on the people around us, and as such, their own capacity to exercise agency is what will determine their destiny. But alas, let’s not despair and throw our hands up in a downtrodden and helpless manner. Remember you, and only you have the power to determine your thoughts and actions. It is the influence you have on yourself that will have the biggest influence on you. That’s correct! You and only you can influence you!!

Here are some provocations for you to reflect on:

Your ego  – let it go as best you can and manage it when you feel like it is taking over your actions. Professor Amanda Sinclair suggests we can never be ego free but we can work towards having less of an ego. The ego we see creeping into our thoughts and ultimately our actions can stem from a range of reasons. For some it is a desire to be successful at any expense. For others, it may be a desire to always be right and to always have the last word. Once we recognise that too much ego will be our downfall, we come to assess the stakes and associated risks and hopefully identify actions and strategies to pack away our ego when it is taking over.

Your perception – of yourself isn’t always accurate or viewed by others in the same way that you view yourself. Some people are way too harsh on themselves whilst others accommodate and accept things in themselves that they would never accept in others. Attempting to ensure you do checks and balances about your own perception is a critical process in moving forward.

Seek answers – to the questions you don’t like to ask of yourself. Sometimes our desire to be right, to be successful and to be in control of others is sustained because we don’t check in with others regarding our intentions and our behaviours. These critical friends who can speak ‘power to truth’ won’t mix words. You may not like what they have to say, but you sure do need to listen.

Success at any cost – is dangerous. Many a great leader and colleague have failed as they pursue success at any cost. They see success as being narrowly defined and fail to realise that success requires a high degree of ethical behaviour and integrity. Without these two essential ingredients, success is temporal.

Apologise – when you need to. It is a sign of strength and sends a message to those around you that you too, like many others, make mistakes and are willing to apologise when you recognise injustice, or unfairness in your thoughts and behaviours.

So a final thought – above all, it’s what you do that really matters, because words are just words.

About the Author


Anthony Semann is one of the Directors and founders at Semann & Slattery. For the past 15 years he has worked as a researcher, consultant and manager with a broad range of government, non-government and private organisations. He is a much sought after facilitator and has delivered over 90 opening addresses at conferences, 150 conference papers and 1,000 professional development programs. Anthony has an exceptional capacity to challenge organisations and people to reflect on how their approaches to communication, leadership, diversity, values, relationships and workplace culture affect their services, businesses and ultimately the community.