Every workplace can benefit from an inspiring leader to guide employees. A massive 70% of workers say their motivation is influenced by their manager, according to a Gallup poll, so if their team leader isn’t performing, employees are more likely to leave.
As a leader, you should provide encouragement, inspiration and direction for your team. The best way of doing this is leading by example to help build a culture of trust and accountability.
What is leading by example?
When you lead by example, it means guiding employees by your own behaviour and inspiring them to behave in the same way. You need to provide a path that others can follow, so the whole team is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
As a leader, you need to inspire employees to do their best for you and for the company. This is the difference between being a leader and a boss. While being a manager puts you in a position of authority, this doesn’t necessarily command employee respect.
It’s your actions, rather than your title, that make you an inspirational leader, whether you’re a junior associate, an executive, or a team leader. So just how do you lead by example?
Keep your promises
Build a foundation of trust by always keeping your promises. This shows your team you have a high level of commitment and they will be more likely to have confidence in you. Once you prove that you mean what you say, your team is likely to become more engaged and will work in a more productive and enthusiastic manner.
Nothing is more infuriating than having a manager who doesn’t follow through with promises. Employees may feel disengaged and disheartened. When you uphold a commitment, you prove yourself honourable and trustworthy, two important qualities in a leader.
Radiate positive energy
Come to work with a positive attitude and a smile on your face, radiating productive energy that will rub off on colleagues. This will translate into increased momentum. When your team picks up on your attitude, they will mirror it naturally, creating a more positive and productive workforce.
Work with your team
The best leaders work alongside their team. There’s a saying that as a leader, you shouldn’t ask your team to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. If you have your own private office, spend more time in the general workspace with employees, so they feel you’re part of the team.
When you work alongside them, not only will they trust and relate to you more, but you will also develop a better understanding of their skills, projects and tasks. This will help you to lead more effectively.
American author and motivational speaker John Maxwell famously said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” You can’t know the way unless you understand all aspects of your company; understand how to do each task; and can show others how to work in the most effective ways, whatever their role.
Don’t break rules
While you may think bending the rules will make you more popular, this is a myth. The most efficient offices are staffed by people who understand the rules and are accountable for their work. Rules aren’t necessarily a negative thing. On the contrary, they provide clarification of responsibilities and expectations.
Don’t introduce short-sighted rules just for the sake of it. Being over-zealous and creating even one or two unnecessary rules can drive employees crazy. Strike a happy medium, as nobody wants to feel “Big Brother” is watching.
Trust your team
Remember, every employee has been hired for a reason. Each has a specific skill set and unique experience. Put your trust in them to do their work and they will start to respect you. Don’t be over-controlling and leave them to do the job they have been employed to do.
Attend training sessions
Every leader always has room to grow. Show your team you realise you don’t know everything. Show your commitment to gaining more knowledge by attending training sessions and workshops yourself. Employees will feel inspired that you’re still learning and will feel more positive about taking up similar training opportunities for themselves.
Be a good listener
Listen to your team when they speak to you, as everyone has something of value to say. Being a good listener shows your team you respect them as people and value the work they do. It shows you want to learn more about them, so you can lead more effectively.
Recognise the impact of your actions
Your words and actions can be interpreted in more than one way if you’re not mindful of what you say and do. Be careful when it comes to your behaviour and attitude, especially in stressful work situations. Always support your team and encourage them, no matter what the situation.
Benefits of leading by example
Someone who leads by example can expect to receive respect and support from their managers, peers and employees. Those who can lead a team and inspire loyalty and confidence are seen as being able to truly understand the workplace and how everyone collaborates with each other to get the job done.
The negative consequences of failing to lead by example can be serious. As a manager, acting in a way that contradicts your previously-stated opinion can set you up for failure. It suggests a lack of respect for the people working under you. It also sends out the message that what you’ve asked for doesn’t really matter. This can fragment your team’s unity and lead to reduced engagement and more dissatisfaction.
Leading by example and becoming a role model can work within all sectors, as it inspires your team to trust your leadership, no matter what the task. Research shows that engaged and motivated employees are 31% more productive than demotivated employees – so don’t miss the opportunity to become a great leader!
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