Rarely do you hear discussions of leadership without hearing the adage “lead by example.” But what does that mean for you as a leader? How can you effectively lead by example with your team?
There is more to leadership than first meets the eye, and for every leader, there is a slightly different management style. With many different types of leadership styles and a variety of ways to work with your team, it only takes a bit of trial and error to find a style that works for you.
Here are a few tips to help you lead your team by example.
What Does It Mean?
Leading by example is about demonstrating the attitudes, tone of interactions, and methods of work that you want your employees to follow. Your working habits and the way you speak to and interact with clients and other vendors will help to inspire everyone you work with to follow your lead. The reality is that leaders who don’t practice what they preach, requiring employees to follow specific behaviors without modeling them in their own work, struggle to inspire the same loyalty and trust as those who truly lead by example.
Get Involved in the Work
Though many people think leaders stay on the outskirts of the work and give direction, leading by example means you are going to need to work with your employees, sometimes on the ground floor. Leaders who take the time to learn and get involved in the basics of the work their employees do every day are much more likely to garner respect from their teams. Additionally, getting involved in the basics allows leaders to learn new skills and knowledge that can inform their work in other areas. A leader who truly understands what it takes to do the jobs in the industry they are involved in can understand what employees deal with when on the job. With a comprehensive knowledge of the common challenges and difficulties in everyday operations, leaders can help find solutions and make the everyday work that much easier.
Take the Time to Listen
A good leader cares about their employees’ opinions and ideas. If you truly want to lead by example, work to create an open and collaborative environment. This will inspire your team to feel open enough to share their ideas, an important part of having a competitive business in any industry. With a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds, companies and even individual teams can benefit from the new perspectives and ideas that diversity brings to the table. Diversity fuels innovation, and a good leader will encourage their team to feel comfortable offering opinions and ideas, even if those ideas might be different from what has been tried previously.
Own up to Your Mistakes
One important way a leader can lead by example in the workplace is by owning up to and taking responsibility for mistakes. No one is perfect, at work or in life, and leaders must take the time to acknowledge errors openly and promptly. Employees will not trust a leader who refuses to take responsibility for their mistakes, but they will respect a leader who is willing to own up publicly when things go wrong. If a problem arises and a mistake occurs because of a decision you made as a leader, one of the best things you can do to maintain the trust and confidence of your team is to own up to that error as soon as you realize it has occurred.
Value Your Team
A good leader values the members of their team, both as individuals and in how they work together as an effective group. Morale and trust grow when a leader takes the time to acknowledge the positives as well as any issues. Everyone appreciates feeling valued, and when employees feel this way, they are more likely to put forth their best effort on every project. Team leaders should be sure to acknowledge the hard work their employees put in every day. It is equally important for leaders to resolve any conflicts quickly. Especially with extremely diverse teams, conflict can be an inevitable consequence. The diversity that brings innovation sometimes also brings friction, but a good leader will have the skills necessary for helping to resolve any conflicts that arise while working on projects. Leaders who are willing to embrace the challenges that can arise and help individuals work toward a resolution will gain the trust of their team members and inspire them to work even harder in achieving the company’s goals.