September 9, 2018
December 10, 2018


So, there was a team building and company values intervention and I got called in to speak. The brief was clear. “We want people to show respect to each other, have integrity and take ownership. These are our values.”

The GM (the leader and driver of the entire process) pitched up for his own function over 45 minutes late. Worse still was his lame excuse about traffic being the reason for his late arrival.

Some “leaders” even managed to blame someone or something else for their tardiness. By blaming traffic or road works they add insult to injury, by openly lying to their staff. Everyone else in the room was on time, and sat in exactly the same traffic. They just did it earlier so they could be on time. As the words come out of his mouth everyone knows it’s a lie and yet no-one can say anything. Why? Because he’s the boss! He is given 10 minutes on a very tight agenda to welcome everyone. 55 minutes later he’s still talking. Forget the agenda, stuff the conference organiser, to hell with the other speakers, and he doesn’t even give a thought to the fact that if we run late people will not be able to fetch their children, they’ll miss their transport. But hey … “I am the CEO, CFO, COO, I am the main O!” I’ve had leaders not even pitch up for their own functions, but they did send…. an apology? I wonder how that would work out if a staff member didn’t pitch for work but sent ….. an apology?

From presentations not being prepared and creating stress in the lives of the PA and audio-visual technicians; to doing e-mails while others are presenting; to leaving early because of more important engagements. They seem not to realise what they are actually saying to their people in-deed?

These so-called leaders, by their actions, demonstrate the exact opposite of what they wish to instil in their team. They demonstrate a total lack of respect for everyone (every human being) in the company. They have just said, “Where I was, what I was doing, and who I am, is more important than you!”  Now, let’s start the Respect, Honesty and Ownership conference.

As you may know, I’m the guy who is called in to tell you what you NEED TO HEAR; NOT what you WANT TO HEAR. I am aware that a piece like this may not really serve me well. If I highlight the faults of decision-makers, people who control budgets, budgets that my business depends on; surely I’m committing business suicide? Perhaps. But, my brand is to shine LIGHT with LOVE while having a LAUGH. Besides – how can I try to inspire people to live the company values and respect our diversity, when the culture of the company is set and driven by the leaders in-deed?

I honestly believe – no, I know that there are enough good, strong leaders who will not only applaud a note like this, will also forwarded it to all of their line managers and team leaders.

In many of these cases I don’t believe that these leaders are megalomaniacs or despots. I honestly believe that we get so busy, so involved, that we forget, or are just unaware of the example that we are, and the example that we need to set. In many cases, it’s just an “awareness” thing.




The best way to change the culture of a company and get the staff to live the values is to be the example. When you treat people with honour, dignity and respect you hardly ever need to teach because you “teach by doing”. When you have a value driven culture that is acted out in the behaviour of everyone; success comes easily.




WORLD PEACE STARTS AT HOME – When your 5 year old is speaking to granny (the mother in-law) on the phone, and you say in a whispered voice “tell her I’m not here!” And they respond by saying “Granny, my dad says that he isn’t here!” Let me paraphrase a famous person to make my point. You have to be the change that you want to see in your family. You have to be the change that you want to see in your company.

  • So be an example in all that you do! That’s what good leaders do!
  • Be the example at home and at work! That’s what great leaders do!
  • Get there first, leave last and work harder than anyone else does. That’s what strong leaders do!
  • Make it fun and smile a lot. That’s what popular leaders do!
  • Pay lots of compliments and catch people doing things right! That’s what leaders who have followers do!
  • You cannot motivate others; all you can do is inspire them. You inspire by being an example full stop.
  • Leaders do not have double standards.
  • The toughest part of being a leader is being the example and living every initiative and value you wish your team to live.
  • Demand that people live the values and have zero tolerance for people who don’t.  The shortcut to achieving this is to be the values in-deed. In every deed.
  • Be dedicated to your staff and make it the best place to be. That’s what leaders do!

People generally follow what you do and not what you say. So, lead or follow but stop being a bloody bad example.




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  1. Caroline Elgar says:

    I like and respect where you are coming from.
    Glad you spoke out.
    Respect is, and should embedded in every human being from the very start of their lives.

    Well written Gav.

    • Maureen says:

      Hi Gavin, I disagree with your statement below:

      “In many of these cases I don’t believe that these leaders are megalomaniacs or despots. I honestly believe that we get so busy, so involved, that we forget, or are just unaware of the example that we are, and the example that we need to set. In many cases, it’s just an “awareness” thing.”

      A quote comes to mind, “A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.” No matter how busy you are, if you have integrity, you would not behave in this manner. You would be mindful and considerate of others and act accordingly. You can’t sugar coat a …. and call it candy.

  2. Kay says:

    Nice one Gavin and also on point.
    if those with budget do not use your services, thier loss, i had the pleasure of listening to you, i must say i was blown away .

    thank you

  3. Elmarie Meyer says:

    Excellent !

  4. Shirley VR says:

    Superb article and plain and simple truth!

  5. Hansie K says:

    WOW. Very inspiring and yet frightening because it is true.

  6. PAUL B says:

    Thank you. Great reading AGAIN !

  7. Hanlie Delport says:

    Respect can solve so many issues in our country. Respect for others. Respect for diversity. Respect for yourself.

    Well said, Gavin!

  8. John Finlayson says:

    I am forwarding this on to a friend of mine in New Zealand, Andre Van Heerden, who is very heavily involved in Leadership and has written a number of books and published quite a number of articles on leadership and management. He may want to link up with you and you may find him very interesting. John Finlayson

  9. Madelein Barkhuizen says:

    Thanks Gavin, fully agree. We have a major discipline problem in South Africa, which is the core that is wrong. Respect will follow naturally if people are disciplined.

    Please keep sharing your honest thoughts, articles and mails


  10. Eve says:

    Now if you could only get my clients (I’m in real estate) to show me the same respect, arrive on time, send a message your’re late, or just answer your phone – I’d be a very happy agent!! Thanks Gavin

  11. Dianne says:

    On the money !! I would give my eye teeth to have you in our office for a couple of hours !!! You would have a field day !

  12. Lucas Korver says:

    Spot-on and well explained! I know several people who could benefit from this :-)

  13. Beverley-Ann Fink says:

    Hi the problem today is people don’t respect themselves so how can they respect anyone or anything else .
    I could give you a list but you’d be here till midnight reading it Thank for being so honest and to the point .

  14. Nicole Van Rooyen says:

    If there is only one email I enjoy getting, and can’t wait to get, it is Gavin Sharples newsletter. Always full of practical, no nonsense, honest tools to apply in the work place and in your personal life.

  15. Petra Williams says:


    I noticed the quotes on a friend’s status and quite enjoyed them, so much so I insisted he keeps forwarding them to me until he got tired and sent me the link?

    Thank you for the insights, trusting I can instill good leadership skills in my team and bigger company ?


  16. Augustine K says:

    This is a great piece of thought.

    I just realized how much we mess our staffs.

    Most often we hardly give a deep critical analysis and preparation of our presentation.

    Recently I had to fumble through a meeting i had called though i arrived 30 minutes earlier since i didnt have hard facts about the progress the team was making. At the end of it there was no clear action point and the team leaders gave the same report they had given earlier.

    Thanks for a great article.

  17. Raadia says:

    Excellent Gavin – I agree 100% – need to show respect to gain it irrespective of age colour or status! I really enjoy your articles watsap msgs – THANK YOU!

  18. Belinda Cooke-Tonnesen says:

    Thanks Gavin. Enjoyed reading that article

  19. Broni van der Meer says:

    Respect is probably the greatest value… Isn’t it interesting that it says nothing about the person it is directed at and everything about the person giving it!

    Respect is not about who deserves or earns it, but about the person giving it.. They are respectful all others by nature.

  20. stephina says:

    I am not sure if I should forward this to my boss scared to get into trouble but very inspiring
    Thank you Gav.

  21. Cecile de Villiers says:

    Awesome, thank you for the wise words!!!

  22. B le Roux says:

    Totally enjoyed the read. All employees should be aware that we all are the face of our company, externally and internally. Been with the same employer for almost 30 years…I survived 5 exec management team changes…from caring about the employees to now being process driven, ignoring the human element. And now the employees arevstanding up and our execs look at us with surprise expressions on their face…”but we do what you want..!! So sad….

  23. Robert O'Brien says:

    I love the theme of this message, Gavin.
    Leading by example is the key.

  24. Ina Pretorius says:

    Hi Gavin

    I so believe in leading by example. Everyone in a company, big or small, must know the leader expects nothing from them that he or she is not doing or prepared to do them self. Your observations are spot on. Actions speak loudly and some leaders love the sound of their own voices too much.

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