Leading a successful Business is not just the words you speak…it’s the actions you display.
I have an ole saying when it comes to leading and that is Leaders, LEAD, Managers, Manage, Supervisor’s, SUPERVISE and everyone trains and mentors. This belief falls in place with my mind-set that a successful organization must be a continual teaching-learning environment. Despite the structure of the organization, the leader at the top ultimately defines all facets of the organizations heart-beat.
Any discussion of great leaders will include the cliché that the best leaders lead by example. Stated in conversation, everyone will nod and agree. And if you are reflecting personally on the attributes of those you have willingly followed, you will find that common trait too. It seems there is little doubt that we influence others through our actions, especially when we are in a leadership role. The challenge is that it isn’t just great leaders who are leading by example – we all are.As a leader/supervisor/manager, people are watching us. They are noticing everything we do – whether it is what we would want them to emulate . . . or not.
Since people are watching and are being influenced by our behavior, for better or worse, it begs a (very) important question. What is the example we want to be setting for our TEAM?
“leading by example” should mean that our actions influence others to behave and respond in ways that we deem valuable and appropriate for our organizational global outcomes. In other words, while we need to focus on our behaviors, it isn’t for ego purposes, but the organization’s benefit. This is also made more difficult because we have a hard time describing what we really want from others. We often talk in high level, vague language that is very difficult to turn into behaviors that can be emulated by others.
The 5 TOP ‘key Attributes’ attributes people say they want in their leader include: –
- Engaged and empowered
- Flexible and open to change
- Focused with a positive attitude
- Good work ethic
- Trusting, reliable and approachable
While this is a good list, what do these things really mean as we work each day? If you can’t answer that question clearly, you can’t “lead by example” because you don’t know what the example is supposed to be. In other words, we have to lead by example in relationship to that list, we need to know what we really mean, and determine what behaviors create those outcomes.
While I could give you examples of each these ideals, and what the behaviors would be, that ultimately isn’t very helpful to you. Because what these things mean in your organization matter more than what they mean to me. Your ownership of these ideas and behaviors make a difference. So, rather than translating all of these for you, I will give you one example to help you get started.
If you want engagement and empowerment, consider the following behaviors:
- Make decisions based on the highest good for people and the business objectives. Be proactive, asking what you can do to help or improve a situation regardless at what level you are interacting with.
- Be accountable for your actions, as you are holding others accountable for theirs.
- If you make a mistake, own it and learn from it.
While this is just a partial list, it is also my list. How I translate those principles into action. For me, when I owned my landscape company I knew that if my TEAM members were engaged and empowered, they were engaged vastly by my own actions. I learned through the challenges that I created as a Leader when I strayed so did my TEAM.
Hopefully my examples do three things for you:
- Gets you to think and clarify what you are looking for from your team
- Gets you to look in the mirror and see if you are delivering those things personally and professionally.
- Gives you a process for translating what you want into the behaviors that produce it.
The “lead by example” cliché is a cliché because it is true. People are influenced by our actions. Your life as a leader would be easier if could say all the right things at all the right times and know that those words would significantly influence your TEAM all the time. While that would be easier, it is also unrealistic. While our words matter, what we do matters far more. Put another way, others watch our feet more than our lips.
As a leader If you want your influence to be positive and productive, you must be clear on what we want from others, and then make sure your actions (as well as our words) support that. When we do this, we are leading by example in an intentional and productive way.
Steven Cohen, Principal of GreenMark Consulting Group is a business management and operations consultant, mentor and coach with more than twenty-five years of landscape/snow industry experience. Steven has an extensive background in managing cross-functional business operations, business strategy and market growth projects. He prides himself as being both an analytical and a conceptual thinker who effectively partners with business owners to assess opportunities, facilitate strategic decisions, and drive successful implementations. GreenMark Consulting Group specializes in helping growth-oriented companies see through challenges and map out operational and growth strategies.