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Lead By Example – The Importance of Walking the Talk

Do You Lead By Example?

 

As a leader of your team, have you ever thoroughly assessed your daily actions?  Is what you say and expect from your team aligned with your behavior toward them?


Managers who do not practice what they preach are less effective leaders than those who put in the work and strive to always lead by example.  Simply put, a hypocrite is not an inspirational leader. When the folks at the top are inconsistent with the standards they set, they come across as hypocritical with their actions. The consequences can be dire. 


The people in departments like to be led by managers they can trust. If you are a manager who has implemented specific expectations, you need to be setting the example by doing those very things first. Let’s say that you have implemented a new rule requiring all staff to be at their desks by nine o’clock. What kind of example would you be setting by strolling in at ten? Some questions answer themselves.

 

Loyalty Mirrors the Character of Trust


Without trust, workplaces become fractured and lack the cohesiveness that successful organizations embody. Employees inevitably feel less loyal at a job where a set of rules are in place for them, but a more relaxed version of such rules are adhered to by their leaders.


When you have a loyalty problem, you have a retention problem.

 

High turnover can be lethal to an organization. At the very least, it can have it operating at underperforming, compromised levels. 


The most effective way to create the kind of culture you want to see thriving in your organization is by teaching it through your actions. If it is something you want to see: do it first. And second. And third. Leaders should aspire to be role models. When you inspire excellence, your team looks up to you. Leading by example is especially important in setting the tone for new hires.

 

Lead By Example through Show and Tell


A manager who shows and tells is a manager who inspires. She is a manager who primes her team to do its very best daily. What does this mean exactly? It means maintaining resilience and a positive attitude and taking on daunting challenges. You will lead by example. Others will understand the values your organization promotes by watching who you are and how you conduct yourself.

Leaders make an impact when they show how. Employees are careful observers of your behavior. You may not be aware, but you are watched and studied carefully. Rules at any organization need to apply to everyone. You share in sacrifice together and benefit from those sacrifices. Management needs to embody the values they expect from their employees. 

 

Roll Up Your Sleeves As Opportunities Arise


Strive to be a manager who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get ankle-deep in the mud with his co-workers. These types of managers instill trust and respect. Ultimately, they inspire the people they lead.

Opportunities (and they are opportunities a leader should be excited to have) to work alongside your team may not always present themselves, so be sure to seize them when they do.


A strong leader demonstrates the positive thinking and excitement he is expecting his team to embrace. An inspired leader with a real vision will get people on board. A less motivated leader who mouths half-hearted visions of a company’s future will encourage the same kind of half-hearted vision from his team. It comes down to trust inspired by your actions. Words and rules are a start, but at the end of the day, actions are what matters.

Five Essentials to Lead By Example

  1. Watch your behavior. If you make rules, then follow them. Never expect from your team what you are not willing to do yourself. Everyone needs to play by the same rules.
  2. Respect your team. Show your interest in everyone. Let people know that they are valued and always respected. Nurture your understanding of their role in the organization and showing gratitude. 
  3. No negative behavior. If you demonstrate poor, uninspiring behavior towards your team, you are reinforcing that approach between individuals. Aggressive behavior that is dominating will make it OK for others to act equally aggressive and dominating.
  4. Under promise and overdeliver. Start by toning down the rhetoric. There is little value to an organization when managers consistently fall short of what they have promised. Go above and beyond. Lead the way by setting achievable goals and exceeding them when possible. 
  5. You are not fooling anyone. Everything you do as a manager is on a TV-like monitor for EVERYONE to watch. Your team has studied you carefully. You are likely more predictable to them than you realize. Be on the right side of that assessment. 


Effective leaders inspire those they lead. Failing to set the tone by not leading through your actions is one of the quickest ways to deflate and alienate staff.

As we have heard repeatedly, people don’t necessarily leave their jobs; they leave their managers (or leaders).

 

 

2019-12-09T15:39:12-08:00

About the Author:

Phil Eastwood is a former London Bobby who brings a thirty-five year career in policing to his role as Senior Partner of Fiore Group Training, a recognized leader in training top North American organizations. Phil is lead author of workplace training courses in respectful workplace training, workplace violence employee training, and leadership training seminars.