The back of a woman is pictured as she is engaging a crowd of people.
The law of replication: People do what they see

“To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.” — Joe Namath

The law of replication: People do what they see. We attract who we are, not who we want. Only secure leaders give power and security to others. People want to follow those who take them on a journey, rather than just point the way. We can’t add value to others if we don’t have it in ourselves to give. Model the results you want, and people will grow.

The ‘Law’ of Attraction?

There has been a movement for the past two decades based on a book called “The Secret.” The book says you will attract what you want by just concentrating on that, and then the “universe” will give it to you. Many people have read and followed the teachings of the book only to be disappointed in their results. Why? Because just thinking about what we want doesn’t make it happen. Life doesn’t work that way. We must be actively involved and have realistic goals to succeed in any endeavor. Just wanting a change doesn’t bring it about.


People will do what they see.

We can’t change that fact. We can desire the best employees, the best customers and the best clients, but we naturally attract people who are like us. We must diligently work at overcoming this tendency.

At a conference, a man came to me to tell me about a problem he had with employees who were not very friendly to his customers. They were curt and almost rude to people when they came into his business. He was losing customers because of their attitudes. He had read “The Law of Attraction” and was disappointed that he hadn’t attracted better staff.

He told me that prior to becoming the office manager, he worked comfortably in a back room where he could run figures and work on the computer without interference or contact with people. When he was promoted after the previous manager left, he kept the same practice of working in the back office. He came in each morning through a back door and only came out of his office once or twice daily to get coffee or hand off assignments to an assistant. He seemed surprised that the front-line staff on his team weren’t being nice and outgoing to his customers. He wanted me to change their behavior, because his insistence wasn’t having any effect on their actions.

Do you see the problem? The employees saw him neglecting and often ignoring them, regardless of what he told them he wanted them to do. What he had unwittingly done was model his behavior for everyone, rather than the behavior he wanted.

I’ve learned in various jobs that the leader’s behavior is inevitably replicated by the followers. We often want to hire people who will do what we won’t do ourselves. The result is that we get the people who are like us — not the people we want.

If you tell me you want to hire hardworking employees, my first question is, “Are you hardworking? What would your people say if I asked them that question?” If you say you want friendly people to attract your customers, I want to know how friendly you come across to other people you work with. If you say you want people who add value to others, I want to know how much value you are already adding to others now.

The Infectious Leader

John Maxwell uses the illustration that most leaders see themselves as either travel agents or tour guides. A travel agent sends people places they aren’t going themselves. They have read the reviews on the tours and the resorts and may have been there in the past. But most of them aren’t going along with the people they are sending on those journeys.

A tour guide takes their followers with them. Have you ever been on a holiday trip and seen tour groups following a leader holding up a tall pole or colored banner? The group can see where the leader is and know where they are going each step of the way. They have confidence that the leader will be with them on the journey.

Many leaders try to hire people who are strong in one skill and then spend time training them to do other skills they are weak in performing. This gives them an offset team that is only strong in certain skills.

Hone your strengths; hire to your weaknesses.

If you work on what you are strong at doing — people skills, administration, confronting, etc. — you will automatically attract people who are strong at your skills. However, if you hire people who are strong in your weaknesses, you will cover your shortcomings and have an organization that encompasses all the necessities to run a successful business.

In golf, I am a terrible driver off the tee. I can spend an hour on the driving range and not really improve much. In a four-person tournament, I am almost never the one who drives the ball best. However, I am a great putter. Put me on a team and 90% of the time, they will use my putts. Put me on a putting green for an hour and I’m even better.

The same is true in our businesses. If we hire people with strengths in areas we are not as strong in performing, the overall business will be more successful. We spend our time doing what we are gifted in and supporting and resourcing those gifted in other areas. If you can’t project security, people won’t want to go with you on the journey. If you have people who don’t do what you tell them to do, it may be because they don’t see you doing it yourself. You’ve heard the phrase “monkey see, monkey do,” right? Employees, salespeople, customer service representatives — they see, then they do what you are doing. It’s viral.

Super Models

The difference between successful people and successful leaders is this: Successful people have discovered what they are good at doing. But successful leaders have discovered what other people are good at doing and bring them alongside to encourage, hone their skills, train, equip and empower them to do it more often. I’ve learned that when I speak with confidence, more people enjoy it and are engaged with me and the program. If I am timid and don’t like to reach out to others, I can’t expect my sales staff or customer service people to do the opposite of what they see me doing.

Many years ago, a man named “Vandy” taught me sales techniques. He modeled the behavior they wanted to see in me. It worked each time. He didn’t yell, “Get off your backside and go sell!” Vandy took me with him, showed me how he attracted people, added value, showed friendliness — and then watched me do it the next time. Then he said, “Repeat what you saw me do for you in someone else’s life.”

Vandy modeled the behavior he wanted to see in me, equipped me with his behavior and then let me try it myself as he observed. I still use it today and lead others to do the same.

“People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you.” — John Maxwell

You can’t take people to many places if you won’t go there yourself. Otherwise, you are just painting a blurry picture and reinforcing bad behaviors by your actions. Your people will do what they see you doing.

If you want the best employees, you need to become the best leader you can be. If you want people who will grow as future leaders, what are you doing to grow yourself daily? The more you want to grow other people, the more you need to grow yourself frequently. Don’t be surprised if you avoid taking actions in your own life, then see no results in the lives of your team.

Commit now to learn something new — a new technique, a new habit, a new skill — that you can show others and then take them on the journey with you to success and fulfillment. Commit to adding value to people and watch them repeat your actions in the lives of others.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, CJMT is The Reinvention PRO, an International Platform certified speaker, certified speaking professional, certified John Maxwell Team speaker and trainer, and bestselling author of “Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results.” For more information on how Mathis and his programs can benefit your organization or group, call 404-922-8199 or visit


The 2023 Corporate Capabilities Issue