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Il Vaut Mieux Faire Que Dire

“Il vaut mieux faire que dire.”— from Alfred de Musset’s play “Il ne faut juror de rien” 

This line is spoken in French author, Musset’s, 1836 play when a character realizes he must follow through with his promises. Translated as “doing is better than saying,” this quote also summarizes the context for bringing my daughter to Paris for the recent Global Women in Tech summit that occurred just before Mother’s Day. 


The trip planning started with my 10 year old daughter, Nyla Ann (Nyla #4, or N4) reminding me of my promise after the 2023 summit, which was that I would bring her the next time I visited Paris. Like a character in Musset’s play, I realized I had to follow through. Thanks to the graciousness of the Summit staff, I arranged to have N4 volunteer to help during the multi day event where I would be speaking. We together scoped out activities and added a few days for sightseeing to our itinerary. With flights booked, we set off for a mother-daughter business trip


Nylas #3 and #4 at Women in Tech Summit in Paris May 2024

It’s taken a month to be able to articulate what having N4 at the Summit meant to me. I was proud of her work ethic, inspired by her consideration of others, and deeply motivated to ensure she continues to see the impact that powerful women can have when they support each other.

But perhaps what resonates most with me about her presence is the #StrategyIRL lesson on authenticity as a leader. 


Authenticity — defined as “not false or imitation; true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”— is a word that has increasingly become attached to leadership lessons. Before the COVID19 pandemic that had everyone’s personal life on screen for display, I can honestly say that I don’t recall hearing the word in this context. In the halls of my global management and consulting company, leadership coaching and feedback focused on executive presence and business acumen. For a host of reasons ranging from Gen Z preferences and pandemic challenges to mental health mindfulness, this emphasis has shifted. Today’s leadership pedagogy accentuates people development and inclusivity as catalysts for growth and innovation.


One of the reasons I founded NBG Strategy Consulting was to help organizations achieve greater impact by focusing on the interdependent and multifaceted aspects of corporate strategy, including growth, transformation, innovation, and leadership. So often I find that this last element - leadership - is the hardest one for companies of any size to consistently prioritize. Cultivating strong leaders who model and uphold values, priorities, and culture in their behavior and decision-making is hard, especially during times of business downturn. The people and organizations that succeed, like Musset’s character, ensure their actions and words are consistently aligned. 


In this vein, the Paris Summit #StrategyIRL lesson hit me hard:

There is no greater way to test your authenticity than to have your daughter with you on a business trip. It pushes your values, priorities, and consistency with how you treat people and make decisions. 

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” — Robert Fulghum

I’ve never been more attentive to panels, present for as many events, engaged in networking, and cognizant of others. I credit that to how I needed to not just be there as a business leader, but there as a parent. Modeling behavior mattered. If I was going to tell N4 to be more vocal, talk to new people, and practice some french phrases, how could I not be more willing to meet new people myself instead of retreating to my room? If I wanted her to stretch her boundaries, mustn't I stretch mine? 


Ironically, this is the lesson about authenticity that I think leaders too soon forget - consistency and self-honesty are key. This isn’t about faking it as an extrovert if you’re truly an introvert. It’s about the simple life lesson of aligning your words and your behavior. Asking managers to better model corporate culture or communicate tough decisions isn’t a bottom-up process. It starts top-down. Acknowledging when you make a mistake, lifting up others’ strengths to balance your weaknesses, or simply shouldering the burdens of others are all ways that teamwork and collaboration grow. 


If you’re leading a team or a company, think about how you’d treat others at work, how you’d prioritize, or how you’d simply ‘show up’ if a child or student was watching. Would they say “hey, that’s my mom - she’s always awesome!” or would they question “wow, that seems like a different person than I know at home?” I ask leaders to challenge themselves to:

Reflect on Your Actions: Think about how your behavior at work would look to a child or student. Aim to act in a way that makes them proud.


Be Consistent: Try to be the same person at work as you are at home. Show authenticity and integrity.


Be a Role Model: Remember that your actions impact others. Strive to be someone others admire and respect.


Prioritize Wisely: Consider how you prioritize tasks and people. Make sure your actions reflect your values and commitments.


Self-Check for Leaders: Regularly ask yourself if your behavior aligns with how you want to be seen by others, especially by those who look up to you.

Authenticity isn’t a buzz word. It’s what sets apart great leaders from good. Similarly, as I was celebrating Mother’s Day, it’s what made me realize that who I am as mom, business woman, and community member must increasingly be consistent.


On the near eve of Father’s Day, I’d be remiss to not note that it takes a village to enable the opportunity that N4 and I had. Much like teamwork in the office meets deadlines even when staff are out, my husband made sure my son was having an equally good time to afford two Nylas our learning. Happy Fathers day! 


 

NBG Strategy Consulting helps clients in designing and aligning operating frameworks that embrace technology to increase employee and customer engagement in service of growth goals.

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