How To Lead By Example

The best way to lead others is to lead them by example

For most managers, the question “how does your team see you?” can be very difficult to answer. The reason for that is because they don’t know. It is not something that managers think about. However, to be a highly effective leader it is something that we should think about on a daily basis.

We need to ensure that we are leading by example, and we are being a role model to our team. But, we need to be the right kind of role model.

Are you are a boss who de-motivates the team on a daily basis, because you operate a blame culture? Are you are a boss who tells the team what to do, and then sit back while the team do it?  If you are, then you are not the right kind of role model.

Are you are a boss who motivates and inspires the team? Are you a boss who takes responsibility for the team? Are you a boss who embraces empowerment for the team to share their ideas? If you are, then you are the right kind of role model.

Insecure leaders do not take responsibility for their team, the place all the blame for mistakes onto the team. They do this so that they can still try to look good to their boss. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions are so negative, that even their team see their boss in a negative light.

1. Be The Right Kind Of Role Model

What I want to discuss is an example of how an insecure leader likes to role model to their team, even though they don’t know they are a role model. This example is something that a highly effective leader would never do to their team or the organisation. But, insecure leaders do this every day.

I have worked in a number of organisations throughout the United Kingdom. In most of those organisations, if something changed, then my boss would blame his boss every single time. It could be a roster change, increasing of overtime, or a completely different project.

My boss would have more frustration than the team would. So, because our “leader” was our role model, what would naturally happen is we would follow in his example. We would be just as frustrated as he would. We would start yelling at each other, point fingers at the leadership (between us of course), we would moan and groan.

Basically, we would act in exactly the same way our boss did. These are the actions of an insecure leader and a frustrated team.

A secure leader would do their best to embrace change, make it positive, and encourage the team to do the same. So, the team would follow in that example, completely the opposite to the insecure leader and his frustrated team.

2. Be There For Your Team And Be Visible

There was one boss that I worked with who was never there, so he wasn’t really a role model. The only time I would ever see him is when he had to deliver us some information about any changes. Or, if there was a problem that he needed solving.

It was amazing, he would show up first thing in the morning like he was there every day. He would try his best to have a personal chat, but then after 5 minutes it was down to business. His first sentence would either be “Things aren’t going too well.”

Or “I’ve got some news” which was usually bad. Or “There’s going to be some changes around here.” No matter what, every time we had a meeting or a huddle with this boss, we would always walk away from it feeling awful.

Even if you usually get excited or embrace change, this guy’s tone of voice and attitude usually meant that the change, or the news was going to be bad. I really believe that this was his way to try to inspire us. But, he had the completely wrong idea.

As he would deliver the news or what the changes would be, he would point out people in the team to try to fix it, or lead the change.

He would never tell us that he was going to do anything to help or lead anything. He believed that because he was in the leadership position, then he should be served. Whereas we have discussed that to be a highly effective leader, you must be a servant to your team.

3. Don’t Create A Blame Culture

A lot of the time, this boss would single out people in the team so he could to blame them in front of everyone. This was very embarrassing for these people, but also for the rest of us. I was blamed on some occasions, so I know just how embarrassing it was.

There were times when he would blame his boss, or third party companies who didn’t deliver on time. What he did avoid was giving us the chance to blame him. How he did that was there were no opportunities for questions or AOB. It was just straight back to work.

He was very insecure and weak. So, the role model behaviour that he was portraying was the wrong kind of role model. How did we see him? Negatively, we did not like him at all.

Once our get together had finished, we would end up following in his example. We would start blaming each other and finger pointing. It was usually to the same people that the boss had blamed, so it was twice the pain for these people.

As I said, I was blamed a few times so I know how it feels. We would also blame our boss, but he wasn’t there anymore, so he couldn’t hear us.

He walked away thinking he did a good job and motivated us, when actually we had just made ourselves even more frustrated. This showed because we were now blaming ourselves and each other.

What was obvious to me was that this boss was getting the same treatment from his boss, and even higher up the leadership team were doing the same. So, he was just following in his “leader’s” example as his role model.

That is why it is so important that we have the right kind of role model from the very top of the organisation, and then down the leadership chain.

When we eventually went back to work following our meeting with the boss, and then each other, we felt really low. Our productivity was no good. Our morale was very low. We didn’t like each other, and we stopped trusting each other, especially our boss. Well, we didn’t really trust him in the first place.

4. Build Trust And Be Honest

This example is one of an insecure and weak leader, with a team who is extremely frustrated and angry. Believe me, we all wished we were somewhere else. When you have a team like that, trust is not there. Trust is the foundation of leadership, so if you don’t have that then you have no influence or leadership.

The team will be talking about you behind your back in a very negative way. They will also talking about each other behind each other’s back in a very negative way.

People talk about other people behind their back because that person doesn’t have their back.

An insecure and weak leader is one who will blame their team and others when things aren’t going well. They will not take any responsibility for anything. Highly effective leaders are role models who are humble, have a strong character, and recognise that it is their responsibility to keep the morale of the team high.

They also accept the responsibility to ensure productivity is high, and to build trust between themselves and the team.  They accept the responsibility to ensure that the team say and do positive things. How do they do that? By role modelling it and leading by example.

If you want your team to be a highly effective and strong team, then you have to be a highly effective and strong leader.

Have you heard the phase “you attract who you are”? It is very true. If you are a highly effective leader, you will attract highly effective team members. You can then develop your highly effective team members into highly effective leaders.

Do you want to eliminate the blame culture? Then you must ensure not to blame your team or anyone else. Do you want your team to embrace change and not shy away from it?

Then you must embrace change and not shy away from it. Do you want your team to listen to what you say? Then you must listen to your team a lot more. Do you want your team to have a positive attitude? Then you must definitely have that positive attitude.

 To change, we need to work hard on ourselves deliberately. Growth doesn’t happen automatically

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

15 thoughts on “How To Lead By Example

  1. These are such good points. Being an effective leader requires a high level of self-awareness and a willingness to do some serious personal development work in order to set the right examples. Your website is a great resource. Keep sharing.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      I love your words of self-awareness and a willingness to do some serious personal development work because that is exactly what is required. We must work on ourselves every single day of the week to be the right example to people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Great article. It’s so very true. I think emotional intelligence goes a long way for leaders as well.
    Having lead a team through change management I was conscious about frequent check ins, finding out what my team needed to succeed and checked on on their wellness frequently. I also wasn’t afraid to get in the trench with my team. I think communication is key and, having empathy goes a long way.

    1. Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I have also written articles on emotional intelligence, change management and leading from the front (leading by example). If you have time, it would be great if you could check them out and with your experience on these topics, let me know your thoughts.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Being a leader is not all about telling people what to do, it’s also about showing others that you can do it, leading by example is for sure the best way to gain respect. Excellent article I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed reading the article and found it helpful.

      I totally agree. Leadership is not just about talking the talk, it is also about walking the walk. Showing people that you care rather than just telling them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I love this article Tom, it is so important to be a good leader when you run a company. The best type of leader will inspire his employees to be loyal, hard workers that always give of their best.

    I totally agree with you that being visible and being present is essential – this creates a great environment of team work.

    I worked for a boss once that blamed and embarrassed his employees and it is an awful way to work when you are feeling like everyone is looking at you.

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you love the article and that it’s helpful to you.

      You are so right, the best leaders are inspirational, and that their team will give their best for themselves and for the team. Being visible is very important, I agree.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with a boss who blamed others, I know exactly that type of culture.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Great explanation, Tom! As a graphic designer I saw many businesses, as I would want to visit them at least once (most always preferred visiting my studio, because then they would be outside for a while, LOL). And I could always sense the atmosphere, the culture, of those businesses. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Often effective leaders had to be looked for with a lantern. Not sure if that is a proper English expression. 🙂

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences when working with other businesses as a graphic designer. The atmosphere in businesses can be strange but it’s so important that as a leader we must create the right kind of atmosphere for our people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom,

    Good examples and points on leadership. I find many leaders and workers deflect what they consider bad news or poor leadership decisions by blaming others. It’s usually not done in a positive way, hence, the workers receiving the news go away feeling negative and complaining to others.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found good examples in the article.

      Yo’re right, I have met and worked with many people who operate a blame culture, and that is why I am building this site and my mission is to help as many people as possible to change that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hey Tom,

    Well done on a great article.

    Yes, emotional intelligence goes a long way for leaders as well. Even emotional intelligence goes higher on a conscious level.
    I think communication is key, having compassion and listening goes a long way.

    Tommy. 🙂

  8. Hi, Tom,

    The higher the position in an organization or company, the higher is the responsibility of the team leader or boss for which direction his team is going and the consequences of the taken decisions.

    Normally, that’s why the leaders are usually rewarded higher (bigger salary) than the rest of the team members.

    So, it’s unfair to blame the team for some of the mistakes or if something is not going as expected.

    It all reminds me of a good-old saying: “The Fish Spoils From the Head”.

    Thank you for this post!

    Best Wishes,

    Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found the article valuable.

      A leader’s responsibility is to cast the vision and set the team on the right path, you are absolutely right.

      I love your quote “The Fish Spoils From The Head”. It is so true.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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