Leading by example is important because it creates trust between team members, setting the tone for increased momentum around a common vision (whether a large company goal or separate project). When team members don’t see their managers doing what they are saying, trust is lost, confusion can reign, and they might start asking themselves, “Why do what he/she is saying when they don’t even do it?”
Dave Gilboa stated, “Trust cannot be commanded, it must be earned over time through consistent behavior and actions. This is true in any relationship—whether between two individuals or an employee and employer.” The most important part of that quote is “behavior and actions.” So, how can you lead by example and develop a team that is totally committed to the vision for your project and organization?
Here are five key steps you can take to start leading by example.
- Establish a standard of excellence.
The way you show up and want others to exemplify.
- Deliver on what you promise.
When your actions speak louder than mere words, you create trust.
- Be consistent and persistent.
Help the team anticipate needs and grow in a way that works efficiently for you and the business.
- Develop and support others.
Demonstrate how you value relationships and create the type of team that works for, not against, you.
- Ask for feedback.
Provide continuous improvement areas to better support the team and organization.
The next time you wonder why someone on your team isn’t turning off their phone during vacation, has their face in a computer screen during meetings, or seems to have lost their creative spark, take a step back and think about the example you’re setting. How have your actions molded them?
Here’s a small exercise you can do to think more about how you want to lead by example.
List how you currently lead by example or will do so in the future. Make it a reality by sharing it with someone on your team! Below are a few ideas for inspiration:
- I attend my company’s day-long diversity and inclusivity training because everyone needs to know I take this seriously.
- I make a point of coming to the office straight from red-eye flights and radiate productive energy to inspire my team during busy times.
- I close my laptop during meetings because I want everyone to see that being engaged in the discussion is important.
U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” Your example starts today.