Nothing makes an employee more suspicious of a manager than a manager who is  all things to all people. Especially if that manager is only too eager to sacrifice a direct report for a chance to kiss the butt of upper management.

Managers who are true to themselves and to their employees score and win big in terms of loyalty, productivity, dedication, and reputation. During my many years in management I think I’ve seen just about everything imaginable. What stands out most is those moments in time when I saw managers who tussled with upper management to protect their great contributors against all manner of misperceptions and even outright career attacks. Are you such a manager?  Are you tough enough to withstand attacks on your people, even, at times, from an unfit upper manager who may have a political or hidden agendas to derail one of your direct reports?

Here’s a checking question. If you, as a newly appointed manager were told to fire an individual because, as the explanation to you goes, “…several previous managers deemed the person to be of low productivity and deserving of termination”, would you arrange for that termination to prove yourself to your own bosses? If you say, “No way!”, then you may be qualified to be a manager who “Walks-the-Talk”.

A manager who “Walks the Talk” would not let anything harm his or her direct reports.

If you stay true to your colors and you clearly know what your colors are, and if your people clearly know what your colors are, then you are a manager who walks-the-talk. If you don’t cave to political correctness and can deal with events factually, you are a manager who walks-the-talk. If your people know they can trust you with their confidence and in their weakest moments, you will earn and win their undivided loyalty. If you walk-the-talk and if you can remain level-headed, objective, steadfastly consider all viewpoints, remain honest and trustworthy, show respect for your direct reports and everyone else, can express compassion and empathy, you may be qualified to be a manager who walks-the-talk.

Oh. And one more point to keep in mind. It also means that for any employee who is reporting to you that you constantly have their six, no matter if they unwittingly create problems with customers or with corporate stakeholders. Having their six is without qualification, but it does make you a manager who walks-the-talk.

“Walking the Talk” is defined as, and demands , unquestioning loyalty to your direct reports.