One time I saw a leader give a riveting speech to his team. He outlined the key points, set the vision, and had everyone of the team members excited about it. I remember it very clearly, because he was asking his team to put in extra hours to meet a deadline. He explained that the company was counting on their team to deliver, and that it was going to make a significant difference to the organization and their future.
But then later on, something surprised me, I saw him shutting the lights off and heading out early, as he was casually chatting on the phone. I remember thinking, “what is going on here?” This guy just walked us through the importance of sacrifice, hard work, and doing whatever is needed to get the job done and then he walks out early? I looked around and saw many dejected faces on his team. They whispered amongst themselves, and then soon after – you guessed it – many of them followed suit and shut it down for the day.
This so-called “leader” failed one of my ten basic tenets of leadership: Lead by Example. That is how you earn respect from your team. When a field general marches troops into battle, he must do so from the front, not the rear. And the same is true in business, if you want your team to treat their employees with respect, then you must treat your employees with respect. Not willing to hold someone accountable? Guess what? Neither will anyone else on your team.
Inspiring others with riveting speeches is great, and often times it is a sign of a good leader, but if you can’t walk the walk, then it won’t matter that you can talk the talk. Your team will begin to notice it, and you will lose credibility. Eventually you will become nothing more than a figurehead.
Remember, don’t ever ask your team to do something that you are not willing to do yourself. If you want them to follow you, then show them the way. Don’t just talk about it – do it. Think about how we learn to do things in life, take almost any sport, for example. Someone can describe what to do and that may help. But when they show you how to do it, and you watch the particular mechanics, it becomes much clearer.
Lead by example, and when you do you will earn the respect of those following you. Remember one other key point, don’t just do something for the sake of earning respect, build it into your business DNA and live it each and every day.