When people think about leadership, they will undoubtedly turn to their senior management to provide it. This also means that these leaders have an obligation to set a compelling example by incorporating a set of values, attitudes and practices not only at work, but in their personal lives as well.
This will mould you into the kind of person your employees or peers would like to emulate or follow – encapsulating the very definition of ‘leading by example’.
Practice what you preach
It may be a very simple rule, but surprisingly not an easy one to follow. More often than they realise, there are discrepancies between what the management preaches and what they actually do. Such discrepancies might even seem insignificant, but could potentially cripple the credibility of your leaders and management.
For example, if you preach work life balance in your company and then set targets that require your staff to work long hours, it comes across as insincere. Or if you stress a “promote-from-within” culture but keep recruiting from outside to fill the senior level positions, your employees will eventually lose faith in your leadership.
Be a good follower
This rule is not usually touted in leadership books, but it is one of the most underrated and critical aspect of leadership. The Greek scientist and philosopher Aristotle believed that “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” Followership is the crucible of leadership. All of us will be followers more often than we will be leaders.
Treat people like assets
It is important for leaders to acknowledge that they are not perfect, and very few have all the gifts and talents themselves. But one common trait among great leaders is that they have a strong self-awareness of their strengths and capabilities, as well as the confidence to surround themselves with great people who can complement them, and compensate them in areas where they are lacking. According to Jack Welch, GE’s visionary ex-CEO, a leader's role is to impart vision and a healthy corporate culture, build great people and great teams, and show them how to lead.
When people think about leadership, they will undoubtedly turn to their senior management to provide it.
A good leader should also intentionally intervene, coach, mentor and influence people to perform at their best. Exercising leadership also means being able to powerfully articulate your vision and inspire your people to rally around it. It is easy to force or demand someone to do what you want them to do, but it takes a visionary person to be able to spot the potential in his/her employees, raise their aspirations for what they can become and make them want to achieve these visions for you.
Assess yourself regularly
Leadership is a constant, on-going process of learning and refining your management styles, influencing skills, approaches and understanding of the people working with you and for you. To lead effectively, you need to stay ahead of the game all the time, and be highly adaptable to changes and shifts in trends and attitudes.
Regular self-assessment will not only keep you on track, it also provides great guiding principles in your leadership duties. Do you take responsibility when things go wrong, and turn the spotlight on the people around you in good times? Do you delegate tasks that should be yours, or do everything yourself and delegate nothing? Are you a constant example to your subordinates and peers in terms of your demeanour, character and attitude? Have you done all in your power to spur people to do their best, and incentivise/encourage those who haven’t? Do you allow people to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them or are you quick to blame?