7 Ways Leaders Can Lead by Example

Posted on May 17, 2017

Whether they are comfortable with it or not, organizational leaders are naturally in the spotlight.

Some leaders might find this challenging to adjust to, but in truth, it provides an excellent opportunity to show employees positive examples of how to behave in the workplace.

Good behavior doesn’t necessarily refer to showing up to work on time and honoring the dress code, although those things are important and should be respected. The influence of a strong leader can be felt across a variety of issues and in many different ways.

Leaders, as well as those who desire to attain a management position, should take care to abide by the following areas where their actions can set standards for others.

Take Responsibility

President Harry S. Truman famously kept a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.” That spirit of taking responsibility and not “passing the buck” is the type of spirit leaders need to possess. As a leader, if you or a team member you manage make a mistake, take the blame and don’t criticize others. Blaming other people not only wrongs the person(s) you blame, but also creates an atmosphere where employees feel they can’t make mistakes. It’s important to accept blame and work toward making corrective fixes, even if you personally are not at fault.  

Resolve Conflicts Quickly

Experienced leaders understand that conflict resolution is a delicate process that typically requires a proactive approach. Left unresolved, a conflict between individuals and teams can eventually spiral out of control and potentially eat away at the morale of the entire team. It’s natural to have some disagreements in the workplace, but persistent hostility between employees should not be tolerated. 

At the end of the day, conflict gets in the way of everything else. Office disputes should be brought out into the open and resolved quickly to avoid confusion, poor morale and loss of respect. This helps set a good example for team members to follow.

Listen to Your Team

As a manager, consider how often you speak versus listen on a daily basis. Do you hear yourself giving orders more than you do listening to your peers? While it’s important to provide direction to the team, it’s also a key leadership competency to listen to your team and encourage collaboration, giving them your full attention in conversation. Listening and receiving feedback regularly can encourage team creativity and help others feel valued in the organization.

Develop and Support

Leaders are in a position to empower employees and help develop them professionally. By prioritizing opportunities for career development and advancement, leaders can demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of their employees.

Supporting employees in developing their soft and technical skills is an important leadership responsibility. Understanding your employees’ aspirations and encouraging them to be creative and take initiative can help them gain experience and take on more responsibilities in the future. Additionally, acknowledge and reward proactive participation to encourage continued progress among employees.

Be Proactive and Persistent

Showing resolve in the face of a setback is another quality of good leadership. Businesses can go through rough periods, and sometimes nothing can prevent bad circumstances from happening. But as a leader, you can control how you react to negative situations. Setbacks will occur, particularly in environments where innovation and risk-taking are encouraged. Don’t panic in these situations. Set an example for your team by handling challenges in a proactive and constructive way, and show employees through your words and actions that giving up isn’t the adequate response when faced with obstacles.

Integrity and Leadership Go Hand in Hand

It’s a common misconception that leaders should have all the answers and are incapable of making mistakes. Leaders are typically held to higher standards than others, but that doesn’t mean they have to be perfect.

Telling the truth helps create trust among teams, even if those truths are hard to swallow. If you find yourself bending the truth often, keep in mind that sharing anything less than the facts has the potential to affect the entire team and company in a negative way.

Think Before You Speak

Giving thought to how and what you communicate to others is another key component of great leadership. In many cases, actions speak louder than words, but it’s also important to remember that words can have a direct impact on employee morale and productivity. Leaders should be mindful of their words and actions. You never know who may be watching or listening.   

These are just some of the many ways leaders can set examples in the workplace. As a manager, consider what you say and do, and how you react in certain situations. Leaders are constantly in the public eye and how they speak and act is generally more analyzed than non-managers. Remember to use this attention in a positive way to better yourself, your employees and your company.