Leading by Example - Joel Patterson

Leading by Example: How to Teach Your Employees Good Habits, Attitudes, and Work Ethic

When you’re a leader, there will inevitably be moments when you feel frustrated with your employees. When this happens, it can be easy to place the blame on those who seem to be “causing” the issue: your staff. But I’ll tell you a secret I’ve learned in my years leading The Vested Group. Your employees are a mirror. Often, they reflect the attitudes and actions that you are projecting.

Leading by example is the most effective way to create real change when it comes to morale. By self-reflecting, you can often find where employees’ undesirable habits or attitudes are stemming from. While it can be a bit uncomfortable to examine your own shortcomings, doing so improves both the way you lead and how your team works. Let’s look at a few things to remember when striving to be a good role model. 

Practice What You Preach

Within every workplace, there are certain standards that are expected to be upheld. For some offices, this refers to the formality and style of everyday communications. For others, it’s an understanding that team members will occasionally stay late in order to accomplish important tasks. No matter what your standards are within your business, they will not be upheld unless leaders set the bar through their actions.

For example, it’s reasonable for a leader to expect their staff to go the extra mile for the good of the company, but only if the leader does the same. Whatever you expect from your employees, prove to them that you are also willing to give just as much. This motivates staff and shows that everyone is on the same team. 

Remember the Golden Rule

Treat others the way you would want to be treated. This wisdom can be applied to a myriad of situations and workplace culture is no exception. Here’s one way you can apply the golden rule to your leadership. 

“Treat (insert task/project/responsibility) the way you would want your employees to treat (insert task/project/responsibility).”

With this version of the golden rule, you can easily reflect on your actions and decide whether you are setting a good example for those you lead. If this was the way an employee was performing a task, would you be satisfied? If not, that’s your cue to find ways to improve.

Show Don’t Tell

Work ethic is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but we often don’t pause to consider its full meaning. Work ethic encompasses your attitude, persistence, thoroughness, and morals.  It’s about more than getting the job done; it’s getting it done the right way. 

A strong work ethic is a characteristic you want to see in every single person at your company, including yourself. You can’t just tell your employees to have a better work ethic. You have to show them what that means through your actions.

Showing your expectations this way can be far more powerful than motivational pep talks or even flashy incentives. What are some ways you demonstrate leading by example?