Throughout history, leaders have paved the way for progress, inspired people to great deeds, and encouraged team and business growth. A good leader is an ambitious, supportive, and honest person, and one that understands the importance of facilitating successful professional relationships. Let’s take a look at five ways managers can help teams grow by leading by example. When a leader isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, the team is more likely to follow their direction.
A leader doesn’t give orders and merely expects obedience. A good leader gets involved, oversees the task at hand, and guides the team toward progress.
Being a manager doesn’t mean you’re above anyone, but that you have an extra responsibility to inspire and motivate - and have more at stake when it comes to the team’s failures and successes. People respect leaders who get down in the dirt with the team and stand beside them rather than in front of them.
Empathy puts you in someone else’s shoes, so you can realize a situation or problem from their point of view. Empathy is an important leadership skill, acting as a bridge for facilitating meaningful personal relationships with others. This can help expand your worldview and make you more comfortable with the team as a whole, and vice versa.
Get involved in your projects. Ask team members for feedback on both the project and on your leadership. The best way to move forward is to be aware of any shortcomings, gain insight from others, and work to improve yourself and the team. By your example, they’ll learn to improve themselves, and thus, you’ll create the ultimate powerhouse of productivity, trust, and inspiration.
There’s nothing more inspiring in a leader than honesty and integrity. These two attributes will always matter to leadership because, without them, the basic foundation of any successful relationship—trust—can’t be cultivated. Honesty is telling the truth, and integrity in maintaining trustworthy conduct, especially when no one else is looking.
The two are halves of an all-important whole that all leaders should master. Trust is always a two-way street. Managers can’t expect their teams to be honest with them if they themselves are not honest with their team members. As a leader, part of leading by example means being honest with yourself as much as with others.
Admit when you’re wrong. Own your mistakes. Be honest about where you’ve fallen short. Be honest with your team, but never be “brutally” honest. Some believe the best approach is to be brutally honest in order to spur change in a person. In reality, this approach is more likely to create feelings of bitterness and lower self-confidence among team members. Be supportive, confident, and don’t tear other people down. Honest feedback should be constructive.
Teachable moments are some of the most important situations a leader can share with the team. These moments can bring the team together, and allow both the leader and each team member to lend their own perspectives and expertise to solve a problem.
Look for times when the team is mismanaging a project, operating from a one-sided view, or would like an outside perspective. Sometimes when team members are stuck in a project, they can’t see past the nitty-gritty to the overarching goal. That’s where good leaders can come in, be the extra set of eyes, and offer a fresh perspective to keep the project on track. Effective managers recognize these moments, take the time to share their knowledge with their team, and reinforce those lessons with future reminders and encouragement.
For these teachable moments to have an impact, managers need to have a solid understanding of their team and how each member functions. When a team respects you and your perspective, the lessons are more likely to stick. Some lessons last a lifetime, and the simplest moments can turn into the most valuable ones.
While working remotely can be a challenge for the team, it’s also an opportunity to venture into new territory, and perhaps even expose some hidden skills you or the team never knew you had.
Remote leaders can be inspiring in the same way as in-person leaders. The changing landscape of our workplaces has created new expectations from employees and management alike. The first step to bridging the gap is by clearly defining those expectations. Let employees know what you expect from them. Remind them when necessary. And, in turn, listen to what they expect, too. Good leaders are also good listeners!
Establishing clear goals is an effective way to organize and keep your team aligned, especially in a remote environment. Consider utilizing a framework like the classic SMART goals framework, which suggests that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound.
Make sure to take advantage of the technology available to you. There are conferencing services, project management software, and so much more than ever at our disposal to bring teams together and facilitate a collaborative environment regardless of location.
Standing for social justice as a leader means readily including all available perspectives and creating diverse teams. Reach out to candidates from different backgrounds, cultures, and ages to join your team. Don’t limit yourself to one vision of the “ideal” candidate. Thanks to online hiring, you can recruit people from all over the world. Don’t pass up that opportunity—you might just find some amazing talent in the last place you’d expect.
Don’t support or excuse negative behavior like racism or sexism. As a leader, what you do in response to these behaviors can set a harmful tone or helpful precedent. When you ignore or dismiss such behavior, you’re essentially saying that it’s okay in your place of work.
Never alienate your workforce for the sake of one person. Inclusivity is a powerful tool in the workforce. To maximize its potential, leaders need to embrace new perspectives and encourage inclusivity and tolerance on their teams. If you lead by example, the team is more likely to follow.
How successful you are in leading by example will ultimately rest on two factors: consistency and follow-through. Ensure you follow through on your words and set a consistent pattern of behavior, as both serve as signals to your employees that they can, and should, mirror your work ethic.
If, for example, you establish a rule for everyone to clock out of the office at 5:00 p.m., you should follow this rule just as closely as you expect everyone else to follow it. Your team may feel apprehensive to leave at 5:00 p.m. if you stay late to get more work done, and even begin staying late themselves—which defeats the purpose of the rule.
Examine your own behavior closely and regularly. If you criticize others for interrupting during a call, but you yourself constantly do it, you need to adjust your behavior accordingly. Otherwise, you risk eroding your team’s trust and respect towards you, especially if you allow this type of double standard to prolong. When appropriate, accompany your behavior change with a verbal acknowledgment of your previous behavior, as this can help reestablish the precedent that you not only are self-aware but are as good as your word.
Managers are important to the growth and success of their teams, but leading by example is by far the best way to reach them and help them grow. Remember that honesty, integrity, and empathy will always be important attributes of a good leader and that being inclusive and standing for social justice can set a positive precedent in your workplace. When people feel supported by their leaders, they can do extraordinary things. Don’t be an average leader—be a great leader by keeping these five considerations in mind.
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About Author: Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing and web streaming bringing teams together to work done