One of the most important aspects of being the leader of a team is making sure that you are always leading by example. Whether you have small team of 3 working beneath you or a team of 50, it’s vital to remember that they are always watching you. And I don’t mean they are watching you and waiting for you to slip up, they’re just watching you. Observing and taking note. The habits that you form and display in front of them each day will become their habits therefore it’s up to you to make sure you are mindfully leading by example. Let’s discuss what that can look like.
First and foremost, as a leader you must take care of yourself throughout the day and maintain a positive attitude. In order to be the most effective at work, you have to be sound mentally and physically. You must ensure you are eating and taking short breaks when necessary to clear your head and refresh your mind. Remember to breathe during frustrating and unforseen scenarios. Take time to contemplate your responses, in person or over the phone and in e-mail. Your team is watching you. If they see you day in and day out skipping lunch and having a melt down when you’re overwhelmed with work, then they are not going to feel encouraged or motivated themselves. As their leader, they look up to you to know the answers and expect you to communicate in an effective manner. Lead by example by checking in with yourself throughout the day and fueling your body with what it needs to sustain long hours. Maintain a can and will do attitude even when you aren’t feeling 100% confidant. The beauty of running your own business and having your own team is that you get to make mistakes and learn from them together.
Another way to lead by example is to never ask something of an employee that you wouldn’t do yourself. The first person who should show initiative to get something done is you. When a team sees their leader cleaning, taking out the garbage, processing stock, answering the phone and taking on customers, it shows that nothing is beneath you as their leader. You are hands on in all regards of the company.
With being hands on, comes showing respect to your employees. You may be the business owner but you became a manager when you hired employees. You can lead by example by showing your team that you are not above the rules. The basic policies about conduct and work ethic that are in place for them are the same for you. How would it reflect on you has a leader if you are late to the store or office every morning and is always leaving before the work is done? How would it reflect on you as a leader if you curse and yell every time the computer freezes or the toilet overflows. You wouldn’t accept that behavior from your staff, so it’s not acceptable for you to behave that way either. You are not above the rules.
The best kind of way to lead by example is to have a strong presence on your sales floor and with clients. Remember, you’re being watched. Working personally with clients in front of your staff is in a way also the best kind of training you can give them. You are setting the example and standard for how the client experience should be. You can show your sales team exactly what is expected of them and in return, they will see the passion you have for the industry that you are in and the customers who keep you in business.
Being a leader to others is a lot of responsibility and some say it takes a certain personality to be good at it. I say, as long as you remember that your employees are always watching you and observing how you do things and what you do or don’t do throughout the day, then you can always be aware to make sure you’re setting an and leading by example, which already makes you a better leader than some.