It’s one that’s tough to argue with since we recognize that the behaviors we demonstrate speak far more directly, loudly and completely than any words we might choose.
It’s always valuable for leaders to check in on the examples we’re projecting.
Here are four simple questions to assist you in verifying if your personal example is contributing to the credibility you need to influence and inspire:
- Is your say-do gap narrow? Meaning, when you make small (or significant) commitments to others, do your actions match your promises? We can get captivated by the big moments of leadership effort, yet our credibility is most often earned or lost by meeting the simple standards we’ve set through our word to someone else.
- How’s your work/life example? Do you tell your team to seek balance and then routinely email your colleagues on evenings and weekends? Sending a batch of emails while traveling, or over the weekend before you are planning to be away from the office, can be a necessary exception now and then. However, if you are always highlighting an example of nontraditional or extreme work hours, your talk of balance might come across as empty. If balance is something you value, make sure your employees see you having a life outside of work.
- Is your stress response effective? In times of challenge, change, chaos or stress, others seek leadership from those who can remain composed. Leaders work hard to have the emotional resolve necessary to maintain an approachable demeanor and consistent response to stressful news, events or circumstances. Practice thinking before you act, especially before you overreact, during moments when leadership is needed.
- Do you think of others often? Instinctually, we can all be self-focused. As leaders, we learn to understand and meet the needs of others. Service-based leadership can be as simple as taking 10 minutes a day to do something of value for someone else.
Leading by example is an extremely effective leadership style. Some would say it’s the only one that works. Demonstrating it requires the self-awareness to recognize any potential mismatch between your intentions and actions. The most successful leaders model consistent, respect earning behaviors.