I do believe some things can be “caught” more so than they can be taught.
Sandra Bullock said an interesting thing to Jay Leno on one of his last shows. She first thanked him for being so gracious to her on all her guest appearances through the twenty years she appeared. She thought a minute, then said she’d also like to thank his staff for their graciousness.
I don’t think Jay Leno could have sat his staff down and taught them how he wanted them to be gracious, i.e. here are the ten things I want you to do to show graciousness to our guests. I think that approach would have had no benefit.
However, his graciousness to his guests – the example he gave – could be and was “caught” by his staff. By his being gracious, he was setting the tone and his staff followed suit.
In athletics, I played for a coach, Gordie Gillespie, the winningest coach in college baseball history, who worked as hard as any man I have ever known in any profession. I don’t ever recall Gordie sitting us down and telling us we had to work hard every day in practice. We simply caught his work ethic and emulated it daily.
The same can be said for a high school principal, Father, later Bishop Roger Kaffer, and a college president, Dr. Jack Orr, whom I served under. Both men, like Gordie, were extraordinary workers. Again, neither of them ever tried to teach us to work hard. We simply followed their example. We saw how they went about their business and we certainly didn’t want to disappoint them with our work habits.
Leaders may not be able to teach graciousness and giving great effort to their constituents, but I know both can be caught from the leader and permeate throughout the organization.
I have experienced both firsthand.