Unlocking the Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership, Keith Merron
Remarkable Leadership

The Poet’s Corner – A Word Is Dead – by Dale Biron

I was recently talking with a senior executive about a change effort within the organization that was not going well. The point of the change was to have managers become more aware and proactive at attracting new clients. Over the years, I had observed this leader to be bright, energetic and passionate about his work. The trouble? He was not very passionate about this activity for himself. Oh yes, he wanted the change made of course . . . but mostly by others. His words said one thing and yet his feet were doing something quite different.

So why in the world might we look to a 19th century recluse poet for wisdom? Because she knows that’s why. Because Emily nails the core of the challenge in this brief, hard-hitting little poem.

A Word Is Dead
By Emily Dickinson

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

If the words we say about needed organizational change, especially ones taking the culture in a new direction, are not what our feet are actually doing, then we as leaders lose our influence and moral authority regarding the change. And yes, of course we all know this basic wisdom but the question remains – Are we actually doing it? Do our words truly and fully live after they are said?