We firmly believe in the power of leading by example. We learned it as kids, right? We watched our parents or a trusted friend’s example and we learned to say “please” and “thank you”, admit when we were wrong and treat others with respect. We intently watched their good examples and we followed.
It’s the same in the workplace – good leaders lead by example.
By doing what you say you’re going to do – you become a force that others want to follow. On the flip side if you say one thing and do another – trust is broken and you must begin the cycle of rebuilding your credibility. And credibility is critical if you want to lead effectively.
Here are seven inspiring ways to lead by example.
Admit that you can’t know it all. Showing humility and the desire to want to learn from others is leading. We once worked for a C suite executive that would often state publicly, “There are things only I know.” She acted like the all-knowing Oracle from the Matrix and isolated her team by impeding their ability to work openly with others. You will lead better with more information – and that information comes from input from your co-workers.
Delegate and match. It is important to match the work with the right person. You know who is good at technical writing and who is great at analyzing data. Be sure they are matched with the proper project so they will succeed. When you delegate and mismatch – you’re setting your team up for failure and frustration.
Trust your team. Nothing goes further than leading with trust – show them that you trust them. You work with a team for a reason – you can’t possibly do it all. Their combined experiences, personalities, education and enthusiasm are a powerful force. Believe in them, inspect what you expect and let them run!
Listen and seek to understand. Ask clarifying questions to make sure you fully understand. Too many times we don’t and hear only what we want to hear. When you set the example of good active listening you encourage healthy productive discussions that lead to positive outcomes for you and your entire team.
Lead your team in finding solutions to challenges that arise. Be the one who encourages a creative line of thinking. Set up a safe environment for discussion, think outside the box, brainstorm through solutions with them and they’ll do the same. The creative line of thinking will reap new possibilities.
Be flexible. Not so much downward dog, but accept that we are all human after all and flexibility is paramount to success. Everyone has to juggle personal and work schedules, and the hard reality is that they often overlap and sometimes come crashing together. Create an environment that recognizes life’s challenges. Show flexibility with your team and they will give back more than you expect.
Stay Current. How many times have we all heard, “Because it has always been done that way.” Soul crushing for a team that is moving forward. If there are processes or procedures that belong in the dark ages – get rid of them. And if you have to go to bat with higher ups to make it happen – do so. Your team will respect you and deliver the results to match.
Lead by example – for yourself, for your team and for your company – don’t just talk about it, whiteboard it or dance around it – show them.
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