I was asked by a colleague today to give a one-line summation of what makes a great leader, and my immediate response was ‘Leading by example’.
Having worked in on-site programs with managers and team leaders for many years, it is evident to us that no matter how much training and development is given to staff, there’s always resistance to best practice, unless the espoused values are evident from the top down. The maxim, ‘do as I do, not as I say’ is especially true today, in the current work environment of open plan workspaces and across the board accountability.
That’s a fantastic description of what leading by example means, compliments of Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO of HubSpot. However, what does leading by example look like? Here are our top four tips on what good leaders do to achieve this:
Top 4 Ways of Leading by Example
1. Get stuff done
Sure, you have a lot on your plate developing big-picture strategies and administrative duties, however, by taking the time to roll up your sleeves and join the coalface, you’ll be demonstrating the importance of execution.
2. Share the praise and take the blame
Very little rankles employees more than a manager that happily takes all the credit for a team effort. Likewise, very little impresses more than a manager that takes on the fault of a team’s failure (and let’s face it, if you are in charge, any failures in your team are ultimately your fault).
This will not only win you respect within the team you lead, but it will also most likely lead to a culture of generous behavior, as all behavior is contagious (which is how toxic atmospheres within whole organizations can occur).
3. Trust so you can be trusted
If you give people the freedom to make meaningful decisions and work in a way most effective to them, they will instinctively trust you. Why? Because you trusted them first. Give clear boundaries and expectations, and then let people take ownership of their work, avoid micro-managing them, and let them know you are there for back up when they need you.
4. Stay positive
Make sure you use positive language and keep an eye out for reasons to celebrate successes. Even small achievements recognized can help you keep the focus on success at work. We all like to feel part of the bigger picture of growth and business development.
When things don’t go quite as you hoped, frame them as positive development opportunities, and be sure to give positive feedback for something done (or meant to be done) well, before launching into what needs improving. We find that people are more amenable to improvement if their efforts are recognized,
“Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.”– Tony Robbins
There’s plenty more advice out there, such as being a good listener, taking care of yourself and being persistent. However, if you can get stuff done, share the praise/blame, trust, and stay positive, you’ll go a long way towards not just being a good leader, but being an inspiring leader with a devoted team.
Need help leading by example? At Peers and Players, we offer staff and management training in your location.