Okay, that’s actually kind of a trick question because there is really only one answer. The answer is of course yes! If you’re actually leading then you’re leading by example, whether you intend to or not.
You’re leading by example because your followers are always watching. They are watching to see if your words match your actions. If your words and actions don’t match then your people will be required to make a choice. Should they do what you say or should they do what you do? In virtually every instance they will do what you do far, far faster than they will do what you say.
The reality is that most of your people, regardless of their skill, desire, and natural abilities simply don’t know how to succeed, especially early in their careers. They can be told how to succeed but the most effective method by far to help them succeed is to show them.
That makes you their model of successful behavior.
So, here’s a few questions to think about as you go about “modeling” for your people….
Are you the type of leader who models a consistently positive attitude for your people? You probably won’t like this and likely might choose not to believe it but in fact your people’s attitudes are most often a reflection of your own. Don’t criticize others for reflecting the attitude that they see in you. Check your own attitude before you check the attitude of your people.
Are you the type of leader who models the work ethic that you expect from your people? This one gets more challenging as the workforce gets younger. One of the more common expectations of the millennial workforce is a flexible work schedule. Just to be clear, they don’t expect to do less work than their more experienced co-workers, they just expect to be able to do more of the work in the hours they choose.
You as a leader must model the drive, the urgency, and the motivation to perform at a high level until the work is complete. As a modern day leader you must also adapt to the reality that not everyone will be willing to perform at that high level with the identical schedule as you. Keep the end result in mind and focus on the goal, it should matter more that a project is completed on time than what time of the day a project is completed.
It will be nearly impossible to motivate your people to do more than you’re willing to do yourself. When you ask for more from your people than you’re willing to give then you’re modeling unsuccessful behavior and your leadership is doomed to fail.
Are you the type of leader who models the importance of caring? You’re people won’t care what you know until they know that you care. An Authentic Leader will do much more than say that they care, they will show it. They will show it by investing time to get to know their people. They will show it by risking a bit of the “aura” of leadership and showing people their true self. When your people know you care they also know it’s okay for them to care.
When your people care for one another, when they truly value different perspectives, when they genuinely value uniqueness as much as similarities then you’ve got yourself a team.
You are most certainly leading by example. The only question is what kind of example are you. It’s your responsibility as as leader to make certain that the example you set is one that leads your people to the success that they seek.
So, how will you answer the questions today?