Your People Are Watching by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

The old saying “Do as I say, not as I do” is an essential message to leaders in any organization. Unfortunately, when leaders and upper management act contrary to what they expect from others, the result is often a hostile or ineffective workplace culture that leads to increased staff turnover and lack of trust between teams and leadership.

Leading by example means management expects the same behaviors from everyone, including themselves and their peers. The good news is that most leaders embrace this method of creating trust, building a positive workplace culture, and developing a universal set of standards and expectations that is reflected throughout the organization. Ensuring you are leading by example makes it easy for everyone to know what is expected and what is valued within the organization.

Being Accountable

One of the most basic ways a leader can lead by example is to hold themselves accountable. This means that you are focused on speaking accurately, following through on commitments, and respecting deadlines or other leadership position requirements.

For example, an accountable leader does not make promises to the team or set expectations and then changes them without explanation. While unexpected changes can happen within an organization, these should be the exception rather than the rule.

Accepting Responsibility

Accepting responsibility and accountability for mistakes is another facet of leading by example. Leaders who take credit for everything positive and blame the team when mistakes or challenges happen are not trusted or supported by the team.

Admitting when you are wrong is challenging as a leader, but it is respected and valued by others in an organization. Being able to say you made a mistake also opens the door to others taking responsibility and creating a culture of support rather than one of blame and the need to be seen as perfect.

Accept Constructive Feedback

Leaders can invite team members to provide feedback and transparency about what is going right and what could be improved. By accepting responsibility and being accountable, team members are more comfortable having open discussions with leaders about areas of potential growth or change.

In supporting the team members in sharing their feedback and constructive criticism, the leader allows for creativity, innovation, and growth. In accepting this information and staying curious about how to become a better leader, the bond between the leader and the team continues to grow.

Leading by example becomes a leadership style. It also supports a positive workplace from entry-level employees through to the C-suite.