Top Seven Ways To Lead By Example In the Workplace
In every great team or company, there is always individuals that pave the way and lead by example. Nothing builds and sustains credibility like bosses who lead by example. That being said, how to lead by example in the workplace?
Leading by example helps other people see what lies ahead and act swiftly to counter any challenges along the way.
Leadership is a process in which an individual influences the behavior and attitudes of other people. If a group is led by a person with poor leadership skills, the group will experience frequent conflicts as each person wants to do things their way.
Although leading by example isn’t exactly a revolutionary management style, it is one that many struggle with and one that can be difficult to master.
Even the most technical of leaders and those who have all of the certifications they need and all of the rules and regulations memorized, often find that leading by example isn’t as easy as taking a class or memorizing a handbook.
Good leaders must lead by example. They walk the talk.
When the actions of leaders are in alignment with what they say, they become people that inspire others to want to follow them. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership.
Leading by example is all about authenticity.
Such leaders aren’t just saying the right things, they’re demonstrating them. Through their actions, leaders can show their team members exactly what they expect and what it looks like in day-to-day life. In turn, the team comes to see their leader as a living embodiment of the qualities required for success.
Leading by words is very easy as there you don’t have to do anything. But leading by example is what it takes to be a great leader.
As a leader, your team is looking to you for inspiration, encouragement and direction. You can provide this to your team by leading by example and building a culture of trust. In this article, I uncover my top seven ways you can lead by example in the workplace.
Get Your Hands Dirty
When you sit back and dictate to others what you want done without being willing to do it yourself, you are setting yourself up to be hated. Absolutely no one likes doing the dirty work. But if the leader in the room is willing to get up to their elbows in something that’s not their job, not one other person will be able to complain about it.
The most effective leaders work alongside their team.
Even if you have your own office, spend a lot of time outside of it so that your employees feel you’re an integral part of the team. The more you do the work with them, the more of an understanding you’ll have about their individual skills, tasks and projects that they’re working on which will help you lead better, answer their questions and guide them to success.
For any manager, getting their hands dirty, is one of the best ways to start fostering a better relationship with their employees.
When team members see their superiors are doing the work, getting in on the action and really working in the trenches, they are much more likely to look at these superiors for guidance and to mimic their behavior.
It is much more difficult for an employee to follow the example of a superior who sits in their office all day and isn’t aware of how day-to-day operations.
Getting in on the action and really being submerged in how the organization functions can only help managers who are trying to relate to their employees and who are trying to set a precedent for how they want their employees to act in the workplace.
Leaders set an example when they show up each day prepared to give their absolute best to the task at hand.
Instead of resting on their laurels, they remain consistently committed to the job, whether that means pulling a few late nights now and then or showing up for voluntary meetings even when they’d rather not.
Deflection is common in the workplace because individuals are doing all they can to save their reputation, perception, and position. A leader understands that any problem in the workplace tests the fabric of their fellow employees and that maintaining a positive work environment is paramount to overall success.
A leader takes responsibility for situations that they may not even be directly linked to, but take it upon themselves to find the resolution.
When mistakes are made by leaders, they acknowledge the mishap and accept any blame or repercussions that follow. When a leader makes a mistake and owns up to it, it relays the message to fellow employees that the faster everyone accepts responsibility for their workplace mistakes, the faster reparations can be made and success can be reached.
Blame costs you your credibility, keeps people on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth. Great leaders understand that the buck stops with them.
When things go wrong — as they inevitably do at times — the leader accepts responsibility. They aren’t afraid of acknowledging missteps. They don’t defend bad decisions or shift blame to others. Instead, they accept the consequences, learn from them, and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
It detracts from the focus of your team as people turn their attention to covering their backs so to not get blamed for mistakes. When people are focused on protecting themselves, it takes energy and attention away from delivering great results.
The best leaders in the world strategically pass the credit and take the blame.
When you blame your team for a failure, you make your team defensive and wary, and sabotage any trust you may have built. Exemplary leaders accept personal responsibility for their company’s failures and pass credit when it is given in order to build trust, contain anxiety in their team, and model humility and graciousness.
Appreciating the contribution of other people in an organization helps strengthen the relationship between the leader and the followers. The leader should also be honest, fair, and open to discussions that touch on the welfare of the employee.
Valuing the contribution of employees in the organization enhances the leader’s ability to interact with people in a meaningful way.
Although employees are working on a lower level as compared to you, they still can provide great benefits to the company. In most of the cases, the leaders are doing a lot to motivate their employees and team members.
To foster a collaborative, supportive team environment, leaders should always be at the forefront of celebration.
When colleagues earn promotions or achieve exceptional results, leaders should acknowledge them — loudly and publicly. Freely distribute praise for a job well done, regardless of whether or not the individual is on your team or the accomplishment impacts you.
Share the rewards. Tight-fisted managers are bad leaders.
If the company is doing well, initiate a bonus plan; this will give employees a stake in the company’s continued success. Sharing the rewards also reinforces your appreciation for people’s hard work, commitment, and company loyalty. It induces employees to rely on each other to make things happen.
Don’t be afraid to praise. Being the boss doesn’t mean that you should withhold positive feedback.
Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then, not just your star performers. The more you give out gold stars, the more you’ll notice motivated employees who continue do good work and recognize each other’s value.
The person who says that failure is not an option will never be a successful leader. This is a mindset that leads you towards not accepting failure at any terms. However, failure is something that can be positively taken.
If it is used efficiently, failure can be used as steps for the ladder towards success.
When you are working as a leader, you will have to face failures from your team members at lower and some at higher levels as well. As a leader, you must set an example by taking the positive aspect of that failure for your progress.
Using failure or setback as a learning opportunity is also a powerful example to people.
It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of innovation. Conversely, if you never acknowledge failures, the people around you may not be comfortable admitting it when things are not going well.
If your leadership model says, “Failure is not an option,” you may be setting yourself up for not only more failure, but a culture of disappointment and fear.
Failure is a vital process of invention, innovation, and risk-taking. If you want a truly extraordinary team, celebrate failure and even encourage it in a controlled, experimental environment.
A leader embraces challenges and goes out of their way to look for work. Critiquing yourself is essential in staying honest and true to your team.
Take a look at yourself and the work you’ve done and see where you have room to improve and grow within the company; your fellow employees may take notice of your self-assessments noticing an improvement in your quality of work and dedication to the job at hand.
Set The Bar High
Once you give employees the language of success, they can communicate the company’s mission. Help them understand their roles in the company’s success. Be direct so that they are confident you have a clear vision for the company’s goals and objectives.
When leaders relax their standards for their own work, team members notice.
They begin to hold themselves to lower standards as well or resent the inequity of expectations. Conversely, when they see leaders steadily going above and beyond, they happily mimic that same behavior.
Role model how to deal with setbacks by reviewing progress and trying a different tack.
Setbacks happen to every business, every team and every leader. In doing this you will demonstrate to your team that obstacles don’t mean giving up. When the leader follows high standards, every employee also has to follow them, this makes a great streamline progress in the quality.
If you want the office to function at its best and be a place where everyone is accountable for their work, consider establishing rules.
Rules don’t have to be a negative thing — in fact, they can provide a lot of clarification around expectations and responsibilities. To lead by example, follow the rules you’ve set and the rules of the organization. If you do, your team is less likely to bend or break the rules, which helps the workplace function more cohesively.
Follow your own rules. Don’t bend the rules because you’re the leader.
Your dishonesty and hypocrisy will immediately cancel out any authority you’re trying to convey. If you’re not willing to follow the rules, why should anyone else? Establish rules, and stick to them.
Your team is your most valuable asset, and ignoring their brilliance is a huge mistake. Model to your team what it looks like to care: ask them questions, try to understand, and encourage an open door policy. You’ll receive far more than you give, and model healthy dialogue.
The more you listen, the more you learn. Everyone has something of value to add to a conversation.
Plus, listening to your team shows them you respect them as people and the work they do, and you want to get to know more about them so you can lead effectively. Interact with them in a meaningful way so they feel confident in your abilities and are comfortable coming to you about any issues.
Sometimes, a leader may get too busy giving directives and managing the team, so that they forget to listen to their followers.
A good leader should understand that they do not know everything and that they can learn something new from the most junior employee. Also, most organizations hire staff based on their expertise and experience in specific fields, and the leader should learn to interact and listen to all employees.
If managers don’t take the time to develop real relationships with their staff members, then the concept of leading by example will never work.
This is why it is so important that managers take the time to develop real relationships with their employees so that they can earn that respect. This means getting to know them and being interested in these individuals and what they have to say and working on fostering and building that relationship until there is a sense of trust between the two parties.
Ask questions and really listen to what people have to say.
Minimize distractions, put your phone down, close the office door. Seek to understand by paraphrasing, asking insightful questions and not only will you receive valuable insights, but you create a climate that encourages healthy dialogue.
Focus on Solutions
Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Punishing your team or harping on them for failures will only discourage them from innovation. Look at the failure closely in post-failure feedback sessions, so you can find solutions from the failure as you encourage others to do the same.
Don’t dwell on problems but move into defining the solutions.
Don’t be the first to offer up solutions, but ask thoughtful questions of your team to draw out their insights and ideas. When you are a leader, offering your solutions first will often inhibit other ideas.
Ensure that you listen to your employees; communication drives a successful team and treating every comments with understanding will help establish you as a network of trust.
For struggling employees, listen to the obstacles they have to overcome and how it can be affecting not only their work life but their social and personal life. Even for thriving employees, listen to their comments and concerns as an opportunity to improve functions. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link, and if one person needs help, be honest with them, tell them the truth and set realistic expectations for them.
Be inclusive. Show your team how to resolve issues in a collaborative manner.
Model active listening and provide constructive feedback. Find ways to help people feel closely connected to the actions and processes being used to accomplish company goals, so they’ll collaborate with each other.
Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.
Leadership effectiveness is not just about skill and capacity; it is also about a leader’s focus. Although leaders must face problems, effective leaders take these insights on the problems faced and then work to shift attention toward reflection on relevant solutions.
True leadership inspires and motivates, helping others tap their potential. A leader who leads by example primes others to do their best work and be resilient if times are tough. To rise to the challenge, leaders must know their values well and always stick by them.
Actions still speak louder than words, particularly when your behavior motivate people to do their best. Doing otherwise only confuses staff and slows momentum.
The idea of leading by example may seem abstract, but it’s actually a very tangible, observable skill. It does, however, require more than eloquent speeches and PowerPoint presentations. It requires aligning your actions with your vision on a daily basis.
It may not always be easy for managers to lead under the watchful eye of their team members.
However, remembering these key tips can make the entire process of leading by example easier and more effective for virtually any individual no matter what type of leadership position they may be in.
Great leaders inspire their teams and lead by example.
People want to follow such leaders and do so with fierce loyalty. When you implement these seven leadership tips into your own leadership style, you’ll see your team — and your business — grow to new heights.
Lead by example and you’ll inspire your people to follow you with renewed dedication.
Leading by example is the fastest way to train a team. When you hold yourself to a high standard, your team will look to gain your approval by doing the same. They will rise to your expectations of excellence. And when your team is composed of excellence, you are sure to see success. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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