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Leading By Example: Be the Leader Your Team Wants to Follow

scrabble board with words lead, team, success

We all remember the “Do as I say, not as I do” kind of management. This old school style fell more into directing and managing subordinates than it did leading a team and setting a good example.

I don’t know about you, but I have had my fair share of these old school bosses. What did I learn from those experiences??? That if I want to be a great leader, I need to treat my team the way I want to be treated. So, when I found myself in a leadership position, I strived to walk the walk and talk the talk.

10 Ways to Lead by Example

As leaders, it’s our job to set the example for our team…and remember: actions speak louder than words. So, how can we up our leadership game and set a good example for our teams? The truth is, I could go on and on with suggestions, but because you have to get out there and actually be a leader, here are 10 essential ways for you to lead by example:

Lead (and Live) With Integrity

This seems like a no-brainer, but as one of Claybrook Consulting’s core values (and one of my own personal core values) I couldn’t NOT include integrity. As a leader it is even more important to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. So be ethical, honest, and transparent in your interactions with others.

Be Humble

Although you may have worked for the same company for decades, or maybe you have been the CEO/Director/VP for several years…you can’t possibly know everything and you aren’t always going to get it right. We all make mistakes - own it. It’s ok if you don’t always have the answer and it’s ok to say that you don’t know. Be open to learning from your team and hearing their ideas.

Communicate Effectively

How you communicate - speak, email, message, listen, and use your body language - sets the tone for your team. Be open, honest, and as transparent as possible. If you are giving direction or setting expectations, be clear and concise. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” Communicating effectively is not just about YOU talking (don't forget, you are also working on being humble). Listen to your team - really listen - and be present when they are speaking.

"Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." – Brené Brown

Lead With Empathy

Remember, not everyone wants you to solve their problems…show you care and ask them what they need. Leading with empathy has become increasingly more important, especially with burnout at an all time high over the last few years. If you have taken the time to actively listen to your team, you know that they all bring in different perspectives, have different challenges, needs, and concerns, and have different things going on in their lives. If they are opening up to you, acknowledge their challenges and offer support. How would you feel and what would you be thinking if you were in their position or situation?

Demonstrate Accountability

This is two-fold: hold yourself accountable and hold others accountable. It’s not easy to admit when you make a mistake or when an idea has failed, but as a leader setting the example, take responsibility for your actions and decisions and learn from your mistakes. And don’t forget to hold your team accountable. No one likes to be the person on the downside of a double standard, so try not to let those double standards exist with poor behaviors and performance.

Live a Balanced Life

Work-life balance is important for everyone, even you. Show your team the importance of prioritizing your well-being by separating from work at the end of the day. Don’t make a habit of emailing or calling them after hours. You all need the time to recharge and HAVE A LIFE! So, take breaks, use your vacation days, and leave your desk for lunch. Show your team that burnout is not the goal.

Value Diversity and Inclusion

You would want to work in an environment where you feel heard, seen, and valued for your perspective, right? So create that culture for your team. As a leader, you set the tone for your organization. Embracing diversity and creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected can take your organization to the next level.

Celebrate Successes

Did your team just finish a big project? Close a deal? Successfully achieve whatever goal they had? Then it’s time for a celebration! Ask your team what they want to do and take into account their preferences. You probably don’t want to get pizza and wings if the team is mostly vegan (no shade to vegans). Make sure whatever you do to recognize your team’s achievements is for the entire team to enjoy together.

Show Appreciation

We all get busy, wrapped up in our work and meetings, and that means sometimes we forget to say, ”thank you” or “good work.” But that “thank you” can go a long way to build morale and motivate your team. Showing appreciation for your team’s efforts and hard work can look a lot of different ways. The best way to know what will be meaningful: ask them.

Empower Others

Leaders empower their teams to make decisions, collaborate with others, grow personally and professionally, and they encourage autonomy. You didn't start out as a some point, you had a boss who gave you the space to grow. One of your jobs as a leader is to empower your team to reach their full potential. How have you empowered your team lately?

Are You Setting A Good Example of Leadership?

If you can lead with these areas in mind, you will see the difference in your team - increased trust, increased productivity, increased motivation, and therefore increased success. So, let's lead by example and create a workplace where leadership is not just a title, but a way of being.



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