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Why Can't Supervisor's Walk the Talk?

Dear Workplace Wonda,

I have an issue with the hypocrisy that sometimes occurs in my office.  It particularly annoys me when supervisors have completely different rules for themselves than they do for their staff.  Why is this allowed and how can it be changed?



"Why Can’t Supervisors Walk the Talk?"


Dear "Why Can’t supervisor’s Walk the Talk?,"

Why?  One of the most asked questions in the world!  Young children love to ask why.  Why is the sky blue?  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Initially, parents think the constant why questions are so cute, “Little Johnnie is so inquisitive, isn’t he adorable?” But very quickly the constant whys force parents to do something they said they would never do!   Repeat an answer formerly used by their parents, “Because I said so!” 

Unfortunately, there is not always a satisfying answer to a why question.  My young nephew learned this first hand when he asked my mom the following, “Grandma, why are you so old?”  And they say there is no such thing as a dumb question.  My mom looks at my young nephew and deadpans, “Matthew, why are you so ugly?”  My nephew instantly bursts into tears.  This was his first lesson on what “why” question you should never ask a woman. 
I realize I am stalling on answering your why question.  The truth is, some supervisors don’t get it, or don’t care if their actions are perceived negatively by their employees.  This is a huge error on the part of the supervisor.  Not caring about how you are perceived will impact your ability to serve and lead effectively.

“Leadership is an opportunity to serve.  It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” – J. Donald Walters
Being a leader does not exempt you from the same expectations of hard work placed on employees.  In fact, being a leader elevates your responsibility as you must lead by example.  The leader sets the pace.  The leader(s) of an organization determine the corporate culture. 

Do you want employees that gossip and spread negativity?  Then you better not gossip and spread negativity.  Do you want your employees to come in on time?  Then you better be in on time.   Do you want your employees to work hard, show integrity, and serve others?  Then you better show them what it looks like to work hard and be a servant leader. 

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle.  It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”-Norman Schwarzkopf

Why is hypocrisy allowed?  Because a culture has been created that says it is acceptable.  How can it be changed?   Remember, the leaders set the pace.  Until a standard is set and accountability is enforced, the hypocrisy will continue.  What can you do?  You can set your own pace.  Don’t follow the lead of those supervisors who don’t get it or don’t care.  Be the best employee that you can be.  Show up on time.  Work hard.  Don’t gossip and spread negativity.  Be the example.  Perhaps, by being the example, you will encourage others to follow your lead.  If you can do that, I believe you will have what it takes to be a great leader, and just maybe, change the culture of your organization.


Workplace Wonda

P.S.  Stupid questions and comments run in my family.  My sons recently told me that I’m starting to look like Grandma.  I asked, “How so?” (my stupid question).  He replied by pointing to the “parenthesis” wrinkles on the sides of my mouth.  For his safety, I have not mentioned this to my mom!


  1. I absolutely agree! I love both the question and response.


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