If you were to say what makes an effective leader, you’d probably start by listing such elements and attitudes as empowerment (increasing the responsibility placed on the shoulders of employees), active listening and action or trust in colleagues, among others. However, there is one feature that surpasses all of these aspects which constitutes the essence of successful leadership. It also plays a key role in motivating others both to develop individually and to work towards set goals, as well as building positive relationships with the team. We refer to it as leading by example. In this article, we’ll explain what leading by example consists of and why demonstrating it is so important for the proper fulfillment of the leadership role.

What is leading by example?

Leading by example is a principle of supervising according to which a person who manages a smaller or larger team not only gives orders or commands but also follows them – sets standards of behavior, ethics and attitudes through his or her actions and conduct (e.g., in engaging in ongoing activities).

Such a demonstration of appropriate and desirable behavior is usually perceived positively by subordinates of a given manager and thus is also more likely to be repeated and more firmly established. For what reason? Because it establishes effective leadership based on authenticity, a high level of commitment and appreciation of those around acting in pursuit of a common goal.

Benefits of leading by example

Why does the attitude of leading by example bring positive benefits to the organization? Firstly, the leader’s behavior as a role model for employees leads to the creation of an organizational culture based on values such as respect, openness and honesty (and others relevant to the organization). Achieving such a result is possible thanks to the following key aspects:

  • Consistency – a leader who keeps his or her word builds trust among employees. If a supervisor requires others to adhere to certain standards but does not respect them, it can lead to confusion, disrespect or loss of authority,
  • Inspiration and motivation – observing a leader who achieves success through hard work, dedication and integrity makes employees feel motivated to make similar efforts and commitment,
  • Problem-solving – if a leader has the ability to deal effectively with the difficulties encountered, employees are more likely to think that together they will overcome all obstacles, which increases the level of trust in the team,
  • Employee development – a leader who demonstrates a commitment to their own personal and professional development, motivates others to invest in themselves and develop their skills,
  • Cooperation – by promoting cooperation and openness, the supervisor encourages others to share their ideas. That in turn, boosts innovation and improves the implemented activities.

How to implement leading by example in an organization?

Enforcing leading by example in an organization requires concrete actions and commitment from both leaders and employees at various levels. Here are 3 key steps that can help you successfully fulfill this principle.

  1. Self-awareness of leaders
  2. As a first step, leaders should thoroughly understand their values, attitudes and behaviors, while increasing their knowledge and awareness of how much influence they can have on their subordinates. In this regard, it is crucial to conduct an analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses, as they respectively establish authority in the team or makes others display undesirable attitudes. Then, leader has to determine which of these attitudes employees should follow suit, and which to avoid.

  3. Identify the desired course of action
  4. The second step to introducing leading by example into an organization is to identify (e.g., together with management and other leaders of individual departments or teams in an intensive brainstorming session) the values that will form the foundation of leadership based on leading by example. Next, it’s necessary for the management to recognize those particular behaviors which match company values and which leaders (and most importantly, employees) should exhibit in their daily work.

  5. Practicing desirable attitudes
  6. The last of the indicated steps involves establishing long-term agenda with course of action which leaders follow and proceed as agreed (within the framework of compliance with the organizational culture developed or yet to be built). Depending on the arrangement, they can:

    • Regularly communicate values and expected behaviors through meetings, presentations and internal training,
    • Reward employees for demonstrating desirable attitudes,
    • Create an atmosphere where employees and leaders support each other in the pursuit of exemplary behavior,
    • Nurture an open culture in which all members of the organization feel comfortable communicating their concerns, suggestions and ideas,
    • Organize training and development programs that help leaders and employees develop behaviors in line with established values.

How to introduce leading by example using Firmbee?

Firmbee has several handy features that will help effectively implement leading by example. The first of these is kanban boards. If you apply them, you can not only break down the tasks that need to be completed within a given project but also assign them to individual team members. The leader can take on some of them so that the other employees know what he or she is responsible for and can track the progress in real time.

Another feature is logging the time worked on a specific task. This data is then available in the timesheet tab. In this way, all team members can see who and how much time (including the leader) was spent on a particular task.

Leading by example, and open communication are also important. In Firmbee, this is supported by all sorts of features, including check-ins (automated questions to employees), or comments on tasks, as well as integrations with messengers such as Slack, Zoom, and Skype.

leading by example

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Experts recognize numerous qualities that people in leadership positions in dynamic and competitive times must possess to adequately carry out their roles. Flexibility, communication skills, an attitude of understanding and empathy are qualities that undoubtedly matter in the area of effective leadership.

However, let’s note that a good leader should first and foremost be a role model for others, inspire them to follow the same values and standards. Managers and executives following the leading by example, however, must not forget about continuous self-improvement, self-awareness and honesty with themselves – to provide authentic and effective leadership, they must be willing to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes.

leading by example

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Author: Klaudia Kowalczyk

A graphic & UX Designer which conveys into design what cannot be conveyed in words. For him, every used color, line or font has a meaning. Passionate in graphic and web design.