I am a complete believer in the importance of leading by example.  I do think you cannot just be an MBA leader, by that I mean a leader who has simply learned all the right buzzword, and can talk at any management meeting… Yet, if you do have the right Know-how to make things happen, and you do not lead by example, you will not build trust.  Or at least, you will not create trust in others to a level that will enable excellence.

This is an excellent article on Leading by example, from Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D., author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It is called Seven Ways to lead by Example.

Here’s my take on it:

  1. Sell the Vision – Yes have a vision and sell it, but please in a calm and positive way.  Don’t be the leader that terrorize others on the importance of the chosen strategies.  This just destroys trust.
  2. Walk the Talk – I like to say that you should never ask others to do something you would not be willing to do.  If there’s a hard call to do, show that you are ready to do it.  Don’t just delegate all problems, because you are the leader.  That is not leadership.  You delegate because you cannot do it all on your own.  If there’s a hard day at work, work hard with the team.  They will follow.
  3. Empower and Delegate – Delegate yes, but coach coach coach as required. Then they will fly.  Don’t make it as simple as delegate all or delegate nothing.
  4. Create Urgency – This is what I call “being in motion.”  As long as things are moving in the right direction, we’ll get there.
  5. Openly Communicating – I like extreme transparency.  In this modern age of communication, the idea that you could massage every communication to win an advantage is long gone.  People will see through your communication scheme and will call it what it is: just a game, and a selfish one.  Be transparent and open.
  6. Removing Obstacles – Yes, that is a key role of a leader.  You are an enabler, a facilitator.
  7. Celebrate the Little Successes – This is important.  It goes with being in motion above.  You have to celebrate with your team all little successes.

Read the full article:

Seven Ways to Lead by Example

On a related note, the book Know-how is an interesting one on the importance of being a leader with the appropriate and sufficient know-how.