Jo Geraghty


Leading by example

Date added: 19th May 2016
Category: Leadership

True leaders engage hearts and minds and they do so by living the example which they want their people to follow

Are you a leader or a leader? Confused? Let me put it another way. Do you have the badge, the job title, the executive chair; or do you influence people through your approach, your attitude and the interactions which you have with those around you?

It’s perfectly possible, even desirable, to be both but I know of plenty of people who carry the leadership badge and have a negative or neutral effect on those around them; and I also know that true leadership culture doesn’t necessarily come with a title. Every organisation has them; individuals who naturally influence others around them and who can therefore be powerful advocates for change no matter what their job title.

But I digress. My question today is aimed at those who are in a position of leadership within their organisations, whether it be in the executive suite or managing a small team. When you stop and think about your leadership style can you honestly say that you lead by example? I know you mean to, but how successful are you and how often do you resort to those dreaded words ‘don’t do what I do, do what I say’.

I know how hard it is.

  • You want to promote an open and collaborative ethos as a vital element of a culture of innovation, but you have so many meetings to attend and so many reports to write that your door is nearly always closed.
  • You want to promote flexible working, or at least not straying outside of office hours, as a vital element of the work-life balance which helps boost engagement, but you have so much on your plate you start early, leave late and even put in shifts at the weekends.
  • And you want to promote the idea of great customer service, but your schedule is so full that people have to wait for days before they can receive your sign off on a customer service action.

Putting aside the need to address your own workload, have you ever stopped to consider what effect your actions have on the people in your team? It doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t matter what courses you arrange; how you lead, so they will follow. When your door is shut, you are saying that collaboration isn’t really that important. When you work late, you are promoting an overtime culture in which people will start to feel guilty if they don’t put in hours to match yours. And when you don’t prioritise customer service, neither will your people.

True leaders engage hearts and minds and they do so by living the example which they want their people to follow. Are you a leader? Perhaps it’s time you took a good hard look at yourself.

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