Leading by Example

Somewhere around 15 years ago I met a person who ran a small business who was really into what at the time was cutting edge technology. The technology he was so fond of was something called “remote monitoring.” 

It seems simply today but at the time having cameras set up around your business so you could see what was happening when you weren’t there was almost science fiction like. This guy could sit at his computer at home and keep an eye on his employees without them even knowing about it. 

As he was explaining his latest foray into this new world of technology he asked several of us what we thought of it. Most everyone expressed their opinion and most everyone agreed how awesome it was. I didn’t offer an opinion because I was thinking more about what it would be like working for this guy.

Finally he asked me straight out what I was thinking. I was in fact thinking two things; first I was thinking how happy I was not to be working there. (I didn’t tell him that thought) What I did share with him was that it was probably only fair that he would be watching his people that closely since they watched him that closely too.

He was a little taken back by that and asked why his people would be watching him, after all he was the boss.

I said that was exactly why they were watching him. They needed to watch him to determine if he could be trusted. They wanted to see for themselves if his words matched his actions. They wanted to see if he saw them as mere employees or if he really understood that they were people. 

They also wanted to see how they should behave. They wanted to know what was appropriate to say and what behavior would lead to success. 

What this “boss” didn’t understand what that he was their model. His people were going to do what he did about a thousand times faster than they were going to do what he said to do. 

If his actions matched his words then he could be trusted. If not then they knew he was just a boss and not a true leader. 

This boss expected his people to trust him when he had no trust in them at all. He modeled an untrustworthy behavior and he likely received untrustworthy behavior in return. 

He may not have been a true leader but he occupied a leadership position and because of that people followed his example. If you are occupy a leadership position then you are leading by example whether you know it or not. Your people are watching. It’s up to you to provide them with a model of successful behavior.

As someone in a leadership position you should be modeling the kind of attitude that you want your people to have. You should be modeling the type of language you want them to use. You should be modeling the appearance that you want them to have.

You are leading by example. Always! You are leading by example in everything you say and do.

So…what exactly are you modeling for the people you’re supposed to be leading today?

Do Your People Know How to Succeed?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say flat out that people are not born with the knowledge of how to succeed. 

Someone needs to SHOW them. Most (warning: very general statement coming) managers just tell people how to succeed and hope they figure it out. Leaders show them how to succeed and coach them so there is little doubt that they will figure it out.

Leaders know that their people will do what they see being done far faster than they will ever do what they are told. You can tell people what to do but they will do what they actually see their leader doing.  That’s why it so vital that a leader’s words match their actions. 

You as a leader are the model of success for your people. You can and should not expect them to do things to succeed that you’re not doing. If punctuality is important to the success of your people then YOU must be punctual. If a positive attitude is important to the success of your people (and it certainly is) then you must project a positive attitude. 

Leadership comes with a lot of responsibility. If you are going to have the audacity to label yourself a leader, or even accept the label of leader, then you must look, act, and sound like a leader. 

You must BE a leader! 

You must model the behavior that you expect from your people. 

That’s a whole lots of “musts” but that’s what true leadership is about. Authentic Servant Leaders accept the sacrifices that come with each of those “musts.” 

You’re success as a leader is completely dependent upon the success of your people. They may not know how to succeed but you do. Model success, model it consistently and match your actions with your words. That’s what true leadership is all about!