When you are in a leadership position, people naturally look to you to set the expectations for the company or nonprofit organization, so what exactly do you want that to be?
Do you want a productive, healthy, happy team who serve your customers / members / stakeholders with a joyful and helpful attitude? Then, *you* need to be modeling it.
It is a real morale crusher to have leaders who say one thing and practice a different thing. When this happens, employees lose the drive to work. With time, cynicism and disappointment become the order of the day and the company loses it competitive edge. So if you have a leadership position, you need to know this - a great boss leads by example.
No matter what the situation is, applying double standards always sends a message of betrayal to people. Doing this can be highly destructive and some people may never forgive you for it. If this has ever happened to you, you probably still have the bitter taste of letdown, betrayal and disappointment in your mouth.
If you stop and think about what some world leaders have accomplished by leading by example, you will understand why this is so important. Mahatma Gandhi spent most of his adult life living according to what he preached. Gandhi was appalled by the injustices that were visited upon his people by colonialists, he was committed to non-violent resistance, he practiced it and people followed in his footsteps. As a result, he was able to mobilize people to stand up against the imperialists and lead India to independence.
Another legendary person who believed in leading by example was Jack Welch of General Electric (GE). Welch realized that if he was going to make the company stand out, he had to do things differently. He sent out word that anyone who had great ideas on how to improve the company and its products could walk into his office and get his attention... and he meant it. Welch’s definition of everyone ranged from the lowest workers to senior managers. As a result of his leadership style, GE became a highly successful company.
If you are in leadership, nothing builds and sustains credibility as a boss who leads by example. Leading by example may take the form of chatting with your new employees at their desk, asking the hard questions first, or helping out with massive mailing. Actions will speak louder than words and your behaviors and philosophies will do more to motivate people compared to the best motivational speech you can ever give. Here, the principle of “a great boss leads by example” holds true at all times.