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Why Leading by Example doesn’t Work

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Leading by example sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? After all thousands of pages written on leadership, by leadership experts can’t be wrong can they? The problem is you can’t lead by example. Your example may inspire others, it may set behavioral standards for others, your example may even be a prerequisite for authentic leadership, but your example doesn’t actually lead others anywhere. Instead great leaders set the example and then hold the team accountable to the standard. The secret is in the accountability…not the example.

Set Expectations Often & Early

The earlier you state expectations and the standard with a team member the clearer everyone will be on deliverables. Without clearly stated expectations you end up surprising and frustrating team members when you hold them accountable to outcomes they were unaware of.

Don’t Micromanage

Micromanagement discourages production and results instead of encouraging it. Team members tend to resist and rebel against leaders who micromanage them no matter what kind of “example” they are setting in the workplace.

Follow Through

Do what you say you’re going to do. Reward team members who perform well and correct those who don’t. Follow through and hold team members accountable to the standard.

Coach those who want to be Coached

Not everyone on your team wants to be coached, even though you may feel they need coaching. So spend time coaching team members who are coachable. Don’t waste your time investing precious time into people who can’t or won’t take coaching.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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