May 10, 2016 by

Show, don’t tell: effective leaders lead by example

In any business, leaders must find ways to inspire their team to deliver desired results. While telling them what to do might seem easier, it’s far more effective to lead by example. You must exemplify the action and drive you want your team to embrace; in the process proving the strategies you’re employing actually work. Leading by example is about more than good practice though, it is also a chance to illustrate the values your employees need to invest in – such as honesty, integrity, trust and work-life balance – that will have a positive impact on all aspects of their lives. Here are three guidelines to follow when leading by example:

1. Showcase what hard work looks like

If as a leader you fall short of expectations or are simply not present, employees can lose the will to put everything they’ve got into their work. It might sound simplistic but a good leader needs to prove – through actions – that he or she values and expects hard work of themselves first. Even an employee who has a personality clash with a leader will find it hard not to respect a boss who puts in the work necessary to achieve exceptional results.

2. Teach settling differences

A potentially demoralizing problem in any workplace is lingering grievances that are left un-discussed, creating a layer of tension that prevents harmony and effective collaboration. In some cases, your employees may believe that it’s unprofessional to confront these issues, but it’s important to approach conflict proactively. If you create a forum for people to positively engage and resolve conflict, you’ll be fostering a healthy and vibrant work environment. A lot of conflict arises because of lack of communication. As a leader, engage in practices that teach empathetic communication methods to avoid conflict from even arising in the first place.

3. Learn from your employees

Sometimes the best way to “lead by example” is to prove that everyone – including you – benefits from others' expertise and experience too. When you follow employees’ examples and even invite them to play a role in decision-making, they will feel valued and be more willing to extend the same courtesy to you and their other coworkers. Leaders who are receptive to the ideas of others also encourage employees to share fresh ideas that they might otherwise keep to themselves. Sometimes, all you have to do is truly listen — and learn.

Rick Kozachenko, CPA, CA is Managing Partner of the Collins Barrow office in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Outside of the office Rick is an active member of his local community, volunteering with the Kinsmen Club of Yorkton, Habitat for Humanity and coaching minor football. His breakfast of champions throughout the week is cereal, fruit and juice, while on the weekend he enjoys poached eggs or oatmeal. 

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