The director who tells everyone they have to work hard to reach their targets and then leaves to play golf.
The manager who calls down staffers for not keeping regular office hours and then says, “I’ll be working from home for the rest of the week.”
The executive who freezes salaries and then attends a conference at an expensive resort.
These people may be leaders in the technical sense of the word, but they aren’t inspiring anyone or earning respect. That’s why the gold standard of leadership is leading by example.
When you lead by example, you make it easy for others to follow you. Here’s how to make sure you’re on the right track
You don’t take anything for granted. Always show gratitude—for the work that’s being done and for the talent and commitment behind it.
You keep your eye on the ball. Concentrate on the goals you have set for yourself as well as for those around you.
You maintain an optimistic spirit. Good cheer is contagious, and orienting yourself to see the bright side influences those around you.
You take time to listen. Know that listening is at core of great leadership, and give your people the consideration of hearing them out without interruptions or distractions.
You notice, acknowledge, and connect. Always acknowledge people for what they do. And when the opportunity arises, introduce them to others when they can benefit from networking.
You never, ever gossip. Don’t initiate and don’t partake. If someone shares a rumor with the potential to undermine a co-worker, don’t comment or engage. Stop it in its tracks.
You stay out of office politics. As difficult as it may be, avoid choosing sides in office disputes. Take part in conversations that deal with issues but not those that dissect personalities.
You dress for success. Always dress a level better than what others might expect of you. Look the part and create an image that others can respect.
You respect other people’s time. Return calls and e-mails promptly; start and end meetings on time.
You are open to opinions. Listen graciously even in disagreement. Lean forward and show you are interested.
You are tactful. Before you offer a suggestion, acknowledge the others that have been brought forward. Replace but with and.
You show interest. Pay attention to those around you and take note of their time, their work, and their responsibilities.
You involve others. Make them feel involved—share strategies and let them know their ideas and work matter.
You model the way. Demonstrate the behavior you expect from others. Know that they are looking to you for cues about how to act.
If you are in a leadership position, it’s up to you to be accountable. Everyone is looking to you for guidance and strength; that is part of what being a leader is.
Lead From Within: When you lead by example, you create a vision of what is possible for others. They can lead by example, too, once you show them how it’s done.
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness is being released by Portfolio May 2017.