6 Closely Guarded Secrets About Leading Your Team by Example

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Learn How to Lead by Example by Avoiding These 6 Mistakes

Parents realize that it is important to model the behavior they ask for from their children. Many managers know what they want their team to do, but too many times this effort is hurt because they are not leading by example.

Here are the questions to identify the biggest mistakes managers make and how to fix them:

1. Do your words always match your actions?

Do you actually do what you say you will? Too many times managers say one thing and then either nothing happens, or they do something completely different. This is the perfect definition of not leading by example. Credibility is being gained or lost on each of these small actions or lack of them.

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How to fix it: Never say you are going to do something and not follow through with personal action. For example, if you say that your company needs to have more diversity, personally attend the training that is held for your staff.

2. Do you say one thing and then do another?

Are you telling employees they should seek a life work balance then you email them after hours, on the weekend or on their vacation? (and expect a reply asap?) If you truly value work and life boundaries, you need to demonstrate it.

How to fix it: Just stop. If you have something to send, schedule it in an email so they get it the next day or when they return.

3. Do you participate with your employees?

Too many managers think they are leading by example by doing it from the top and telling people what to do instead of showing them. They never work along side of their employees on a project or a problem.

How to fix it: Get “dirt on your hands”; work with one of your employees as an equal where you are actually helping to do some of their work!

4. Do you take your stress out on others?

Many managers react based on an immediate stress that is being placed on them. They then put it directly back on their employees’ shoulders. It’s like the person that has had a bad day at work, so they go home and kick the cat.

How to fix it: It is hard many times to manage emotions and not bring outside stressors to work. Before reacting, think about the source of the stress, if it is work related and what actions can be taken to reduce it.

5. Are you thinking about what others want?

It is instinctual for most of us to be self-focused. But leading by example means thinking about what your employees want out of work.

How to fix it: Spend 15 minutes a day doing something for someone else by having an “agenda free” conversation and listening to them. Think about what you can do to remove an obstacle they are personally facing.

6. Are you always blaming others?

Too many managers deflect responsibility by blaming others on their team or different departments. Don’t be afraid to take “the bullet” on an issue if that makes sense.  Playing the blame game costs credibility and will keep employees on the defensive where they will be afraid to take any risks.

How to fix it: Focus on the problem, not the people. Review what happened and what can change to have a better outcome next time.

How to Lead by Example

Like it or not, you are always leading by example with every action you take. This consistently provides a key insight into who you are as a manager. Your personal actions can be effective in building your company or tearing it apart.

Photo via Shutterstock 4 Comments ▼

Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

4 Reactions
  1. Many people have difficulty answering these questions accurately about themselves. Having someone you trust answer them can often help provide a better perspective but you’ve got to be humble about it.

  2. For a manager, these concepts are always in your mind but you need to be reminded to use them. I think the one that is most difficult to use is the, “taking the stress out on others”. I have seen many managers over the years project how they feel on others. It is not their intent but they forget to stop and reflect on the reaction they are about to present.

  3. Agreed! Good point!

  4. Hi Barry, I agree with all of your points. In relation to number 3 I think that there can be some issues related to working too closely with your employees. Some managers have a tendency to jump in and get things done when they feel the employee is not performing the task to their satisfaction. As you say in your article, the manager needs to show and encourage the employee.

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