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Leading By Example Isn’t Enough

This may be surprising to you, but although leading by example is an excellent way to model the behavior you expect in your team when you are an owner or manager, frequently it isn’t enough unfortunately.

I was reminded of this in a recent conversation I had with a business owner. The owner is a kind, easy-going individual. He treats his people well, and simply expects them to try to do a good job. He realizes that nothing is perfect, and all that he asks is that people generally try to do their best.

The reason we were having the conversation though was that the employees weren’t doing their best. Many items were carelessly overlooked, and they weren’t complicated things to fix! It merely would have taken a little additional care on the part of the employee to not skip steps, watch the quality of their work, and other general items that any manager would expect from a team member. What was interesting is that the owner had made attempts to lead by example and show the team members what was expected, but the hints weren’t taken. This is where a change was needed.

It’s not enough to model the behavior you want and expect it to be adopted. While some more intuitive team members may pick up on the cues, some will simply feel that you are the owner and therefore you naturally act in such a manner. If you want positive change to happen, you need to be specific about what you expect by pointing it out as well. Yes, leading by example and modeling the behavior you expect is a great start, but you have to tell your team members “why” you do things a certain way. When you don’t communicate the “why”, employees can think that it’s how you prefer to operate, but they may not understand the significance. In other words, you not only have to show them what is expected, you need to tell them the reasons things are done that way. By helping team members understand the importance of why something is done a certain way, you increase the chances of adoption of that positive behavior.

If you are both showing how something should be done, and effectively communicating why it should be done in that manner, and it’s still not being adopted by your team... then that’s a whole different problem that we will save for another blog. I will give you a hint though... there may be some changes needed in the team.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you the best in your business.

Mark Goldman



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