5 Ways to Find Out if You Lead by Example

Posted on September 24, 2012.

One of the biggest challenges managers face is realizing that their actions are no longer their own. You may not notice it, but your staff is watching what you do and say every day.  You’re setting the tone and culture of your office and so you might want to double check if you really set the right example.

Ask yourself the following:

1.     Do you tell everyone to leave their work in the office, but send out emails and requests after hours? Maybe the best time for you to get things off your desk is after hours at home, but every time you send out “work” at night or weekends, your staff feels perpetually on call.  Try to create all your emails but save them as drafts and send them during the regular workday.

2.     Do you tell everyone to stay positive, but criticize people outside your team? You’re only human after all. If you don’t like someone in another department, what’s the harm in airing your complaints? By doing so, you’ve said it’s okay to talk about someone behind his or her back and be publically negative. Neither is okay. Voice your opinion at home and be neutral in the office.

3.     Do you lament the fact that work is “just not as fun as it use to be“ but never laugh openly? You don’t need to tell jokes to find the humor in every day work life. Make it okay to laugh at yourself.  Be creative about finding ways to pull the team together, have a crazy contest or share funny articles you’ve read.  If your team is not having fun, it’s likely because you’re not. 

4.    Do you hold everyone accountable for being responsive but fail to return phone calls or emails? When I ran a sales force, I was diligent about retuning calls within 24 hours. Same for emails that required action. As the manager, if you aren’t disciplined about responsiveness, no one else will be either.

5.    Do you want solutions for any complaints, but only offer critical feedback? It’s great to tell your staff they are free to criticize a policy or process, but only if they offer a solution. On the other hand, when you’re providing feedback, do you only tell your employee what they’re doing wrong and not offer advice or steps to improve?

You’ve always heard that actions speak louder than words and it’s never truer than a manager’s actions in front of his or her staff. So stop talking about what you want and start living it.