Leading by example shows strong character, the best leaders I’ve ever known were great because they knew how to inspire others to adopt an enthusiastic attitude. Strong leaders don’t need to scream and yell or threaten or criticize because a good leader steps in and helps out.
Leading By Example Shows Strong Character
There’s the boss who tells everyone to stay late, and then leaves promptly at 5:00pm to go golfing. There’s the supervisor who criticizes everyone for spending time on the Internet, but is discovered buying groceries online in the middle of the afternoon. And the CFO who recommends layoffs to stop “unnecessary spending,” but then buys herself brand-new luxury office furniture. Do you know any of these people?
There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. It’s like watching the air go out of a balloon – and cynicism and disappointment usually take its place.
If you’re in a leadership position, then you know that you have a responsibility to your team. They look to you for guidance and strength; that’s part of what being a leader is. And a big part of your responsibility is to lead them with your own actions.
So why is it so important to lead by example; and what happens when you don’t?
Why It Matters
There’s an old saying about the difference between a manager and a leader: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” (It’s best to be both a manager and a leader – they’re just different processes.)
As a leader, part of your job is to inspire the people around you to push themselves – and, in turn, the company – to greatness. To do this, you must show them the way by doing it yourself.
When You Don’t Lead by Example
We’ve seen just how powerful it can be to lead by example. But what happens when you don’t follow this rule? How does your team feel when you tell them to do one thing, and then you do the exact opposite?
As we said earlier, if this ever happened to you, then it shouldn’t be hard to remember how angry and disappointed you were.
When leaders don’t “practice what they preach,” it can be almost impossible for a team to work together successfully. How can anyone trust a leader who talks about one thing, but does another?
Good leaders push their people forward with excitement, inspiration, trust, and vision. If you lead a team that doesn’t trust you, productivity will drop.
Apply This to Your Life
- If you ask a co-worker to do something, make sure you’d be willing to do it yourself.
- If you implement new rules for the office, then follow those rules just as closely as you expect everyone else to follow them. For example, if the new rule is “no personal calls at work,” then don’t talk to your spouse at work. You’ll be seen as dishonest, and your staff may become angry and start disobeying you.
- Look closely at your own behavior. If you criticize people for interrupting, but you constantly do it yourself, you need to fix this. Yes, you want people to pay attention to one another and listen to all viewpoints, so demonstrate this yourself.
- If, in the spirit of goodwill, you make a rule for everyone to leave the office at 5:00 p.m., then you need to do it too. If you stay late to get more work done, your team may feel guilty and start staying late too, which can destroy the whole purpose of the rule. The same is true for something like a lunch break – if you want your team to take a full hour to rest and relax, then you need to do it too. Click here to read more…
As I always say leading by example shows strong character and good sense. Much more is accomplished when people feel they are respected and appreciated and when a leader rolls up their sleeves and gets their hands “dirty”, it never goes unnoticed and the results can be quite remarkable.
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