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11.04.08

Lead By Example

Leading by example is one of those things we know and remember to do on our way to do something else. The problem is that it requires a lot more inner work than we are willing to put in, but it leverages our leadership more than any other thing we can do.
Lead By Example


Unfortunately, it is the norm that leaders don’t know themselves well enough to set an example. Tolstoy once remarked, “Everyone dreams of changing humanity but no one dreams of changing himself.” Yet that’s what it takes to lead by example.

John Baldoni has written an excellent and practical book that addresses areas that leaders need to look at in order to be the kind of person that people will want to follow. Lead by Example contains 50 short chapters (See the Table of Contents here.) that pinpoint an area of concern and how to tackle it. It “demonstrates how leaders leverage their best attributes to overcome their shortcomings in order to build trust and drive results.”

Baldoni breaks up the 50 chapters into four sections that he describes this way:

Set the Right Example
Before you can lead others, you must lead yourself. You need to know what you are made of. Character and conviction matter….Your example is your character in action. Ask yourself:
  • How often do I take the time to reflect on my own performance and how it affects my team?
  • What am I doing to make myself a better leader?
Act the Part
You need to know who you are leading and the culture in which you intend to lead. Most often, there will be no roadmaps, but there will be plenty of roadblocks. It’s the leader’s job to identify them and put the team in place to remove them….[L]eaders need to set direction, but then step back and let people discover for themselves how to get things done. Ask yourself:
  • What am I doing to be sure that people understand their mission?
  • How well am I winning over the “fence sitters,” those waiting for things to happen?
  • How well am I overcoming obstacles that stand in the way?
  • What should I be doing to spread the confidence?
Handle the Tough Stuff
Life comes at you in different directions. Sometimes it will come so hard it will knock you down. There is no shame in falling; what matters is getting up to fight again. When your people see you doing that, they will be encouraged to follow your example. Sometimes you have to collaborate with people who have no interest in you or your ideas. You have to learn to lead when you have no authority to do so. You must prove that you know your stuff. You must use your wits and your influence to succeed. By doing so, you create opportunities for people to listen to what you have to say and give yourself a chance to prove your case. Ask yourself:
  • How well am I encouraging alternative points of view?
  • What do I do when a member of our team suffers a setback?
  • How well do I seek solutions rather than seeking to pin blame?
Put the Team First
No leader lives in a vacuum. It is incumbent that you show people what you think of them, honestly and positively. This means you coach your people for success. Ask yourself:
  • How well are we dealing with tension in our team? Is it positive or negative?
  • What can I do to make certain we have the right people in the right jobs to do the job right?
  • What can I do to demonstrate my appreciation for my team?

The way this book is organized makes it a great reference tool that you can refer to when you are faced with leadership—people—issues. It’s also a good book to put in the hands of those who are seeking to lead in your organization. The thinking and behaviors addressed in this book will pay dividends.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:23 AM
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» The Leader’s Pocket Guide from Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog
What I like most about the work of John Baldoni is that it is very practical. His advice is relatable, practical, and gets to the core if the issue. In article after article, book after book, he hits the nail... [Read More]

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