There are a lot of buzzwords in business. “Leading by example” is likely one you’ve encountered. Unlike other terms that don’t hold much meaning, leading by example can profoundly impact your organization’s success.
Let’s dig into the definition of leading by example and how you can embody it in your leadership style.
The Meaning of “Leading By Example”
Leading by example refers to showing — rather than telling — people how to act. When someone leads by example, they provide a positive precedent that employees or others can emulate.
An executive with a strong work ethic will demonstrate their commitment to their job through their actions. For instance, in this interview with Cyrus Nikou, the entrepreneur says, “I come into the office with the same tenacity, discipline, and work ethic that I expect from the rest of my team.”
How to Lead by Example
The first step of leading by example involves determining what qualities matter the most to you. You should select traits you want your team to exhibit when working for your company.
For instance, an executive who wants greater collaboration between teammates should make regular meetings part of the workweek. Their discussions should have specific objectives, like improving a process or meeting a quarterly sales goal.
Rather than leading the meeting with a top-down mindset, they’ll encourage all attendees to provide strategic input.
Over time, your employees will see the benefits of collaboration and foster stronger relationships with their colleagues. You’ll see fewer operational silos in the organization, which leads to better decision-making among managers and team members.
Once you decide on essential traits, you’ll want to consider them when interacting with your team. Your actions should always align with your desired attributes. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your employees.
For example, if you value honesty, you’ll want to cultivate an atmosphere of transparency at work. If you’re not meeting your sales goals or seeing a significant threat from a competitor, you won’t gloss over company problems. Instead, you’ll explain them to the team and ask for their suggestions.
If you stray from leading by example, hold yourself accountable. Tell your team what you did wrong and how your actions don’t align with your values. While it can be hard to admit a mistake, your employees will appreciate your honesty. It provides them with another lesson about your commitment to leading by example.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Leading by example takes time, and you’ll want to select the traits most crucial to you. Sometimes, the characteristics you choose might not align with your personality.
For instance, if you want your team to be more vocal, but you’re a natural introvert, it may be challenging to exhibit the traits of an extrovert. Instead, find qualities that align with your personality to demonstrate to your team.
There’s no need to take on characteristics that are unnatural to you. In fact, doing so may drive people away.
Leading by Example Encourages Better Habits in Your Organization
When you lead by example, others will pick up on your behavior and begin to embody the traits you exhibit. Positive behavior can lead to a fluid working environment where everyone feels comfortable and supported. Choose the qualities most important to you, and make a concerted effort to display them when interacting with your team.