The Law of the Picture is the thirteenth of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It states that people do what people see.
I have three children and have learned that it is more effective to model what I want them to do than to tell them what to do.
Whether you are leading a small business or a corporate organization, people will do as you do, not as you say.
Band of Brothers is a TV series that tell the story of Easy Company, a group of young soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army who fought during World War II.
ThIis 10-part series chronicled the experiences of these young soldiers who fought heroically from the invasion of Normandy to the end of the war.
The various sergeants, lieutenants, and captains who commanded Easy Company displayed many styles of leadership.
Sobel disobeyed the Law of the Picture
Hebert Sobel was Easy Company’s commanding officer during its training. He was shown to be a brutal and autocratic leader who did not obey the law of the picture.
He arbitrarily revokes passes and inflicted punishment.
Sobel drove the men of Easy company harder than the commander of any other company. This was fine because he was preparing them for war.
However, Sobel did not push himself the same way, being barely capable of passing the physical test required of paratroopers.
On one night exercise, he decided to teach his men a lesson.
He and Sergeant Evans went sneaking through the company position to steal rifles from sleeping men. The mission was successful.
By daylight, they had nearly fifty rifles.
With great fanfare, Evans called the company together and Sobel began to tell the men what miserable soldiers they were.
What Sobel did not realize was that the men he was berating were not his men. He had wandered into and stolen the rifles belonging to another company.
As a result, the men who served under Sobel mocked him and undermined him.
The men of Easy Company also took bets on which of them would shoot Sobel when they finally got into combat. Fortunately, Sobel was removed as their company commander before they went into combat.
Winters obeyed the Law of the Picture
Unlike Herbert Sobel, Dick Winters was an excellent leader who led Easy Company by example.
Winters started as a platoon leader and was promoted to company commander after Normandy and then to battalion executive officer. He finished his military career with the rank of major.
Unlike Sobel, Winters always led from the front, setting the example and taking the risks along with his men. His philosophy is “officers go first.”
Here is how Winters summed up his approach to leadership, “I may not have been the best combat commander, but I always strove to be.
My men depended on me to carefully analyze every tactical situation, to maximize the resources that I had at my disposal, to think under pressure, and then to lead them by personal example.”
How to lead with the Law of the Picture
So, how do you lead effectively with the Law of the picture?
- Model the vision. Followers are always watching what you do. Don’t only communicate your vision, you have to also live the vision. It is your effective modeling of the vision that wil make the picture come alive.
- Do what is right. It is easier to teach what is right than to do it. As a leader, you have to raise your living to the level of your teaching. Refrain from teaching anything you are not living. You will lose your influence if you give good advice but set a bad example.
- Work on changing yourself. Leaders are quick to teach, train, correct, and improve others. The problem is that others are a reflection of what we model. So, work on changing yourself before you trying to improve others.
- Be a good example. A survey shows that the number one trait that American workers said was most important for a person to lead them is “Leading by example.” More than anything else, employees want leaders whose beliefs and actions line up.
If you want to increase your influence as a leader, always remember that it is not enough to tell people what to do, you must be an example of what to do.
Your followers will naturally do what they see you do, it is the Law of the Picture.
Your character is very vital to your leadership, and it is best communicated through what you do, not what you say.