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I wrote a blog entry called 10 Ways Leaders Can Build Their Team. One thing implied, but not actually said in that blog entry was that a good leader will lead by example.
The leader who says, "Do what I say, not what I do will have trouble gaining the respect of her/his team".
This aspect of leadership is difficult for many people because they believe they have earned the right for a few perks, or to slow down a little. That is a dangerous perception!
Here are a few situations/thoughts on leading by example.
1. Time. If you expect your people to work a full 8 hours (and hopefully a little more) then you need to be willing to do the same. Not only that, you need to be SEEN to be doing the same! If you arrive a little late, leave a little early, are rarely around on Friday afternoons and never seen in the office after 5pm guess what your people think? They will have no qualms about following THAT lead!
2. Expenses. You expect your people to be reasonable with their expenses, not to overdo it, to get a good return on investment. You want them to build good relationships with your clients, to treat them well but not be too ostentatious. However you like to be "the man" picking up tabs, spending company money like it's your own, going to the best restaurants, golfing regularly with "old friends" more than with existing and potential clients. That is a lead that your salespeople will follow and it will not result in more business ... yet if they spread their attentions and treated all their clients well (but not lavishly) they would likely have better relationships with more people.
3. Travel. Travel is expensive ... hotels and flights are not cheap. The time people take getting from place to place is generally nonproductive time. You want your people to be reasonable with their costs, to plan their trips to take advantage of deals, to stay in reasonable hotels and not to travel during the work day. Do you travel business class for short flights (I always travel economy even when cross Canada on 4 or 5 hour flights), stay in the best hotels, and travel during the business day (I catch early flights or late flights depending on time zone changes ... mostly flying on my own time). You are setting an example for your people ... and they WILL follow your lead.
4. Respect. You want a company that treats people well but do you treat ALL of the people you deal with well? Do you respect their time ... or are they supposed to fit around your schedule? Are you thoughtful about their life situations, or is that just their problem? Do you expect someone else to clean up after you, or do you drop your own cup in the dishwasher? The little things count ... and just because you are the boss it does not mean you can't do the right thing! If you are willing to do the right things then the people around you are far more likely to follow suit!
5. Life Long Learning. We all know that the pace of change today is incredible and that in order to stay relevant we need to keep learning. Whatever business you are in it is your staff who are head to head with the competition every day ... are they learning and growing to stay competitive? More importantly are you setting the right example by doing the same ... and in such a way that you set an example? A boss who is always learning will have a chance of staying current but more importantly is helping his team to see the value in staying current ... which ultimately will decide the success or not of your company.
These are just a few top of mind examples. The culture of an organisation is set by its leaders, and if those leaders are not consistent with their positive messages, both explicit and through their actions, it impacts the culture.
Good leaders act the way they expect others to act and are conscious about their personal brand as well as that of their company.
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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