A coaching client whose husband was teaching their son how to drive, told me a story that reinforces an important fact. She said, one day, as her husband, once again, admonished their son for not using his right turn signal, their son pulled over, stopped the car, looked his dad in the eyes and said, “Dad, why are you yelling at me? You never use your right turn signal.”

While parents, teachers and leaders might wish the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” was true, we all know from experience, it’s not. The people you develop and lead are more influenced by your behavior than they are by your words. In fact, research says that 93% of communication is conveyed through behavior.

So what does this mean to you and how can you put it into action? Inc.’s magazine offers these “7 Simple Ways to Lead By Example.”

  1. Get your hands dirty – do the work and know your trade.
  2. Watch what you say – your words can affect morale.
  3. Respect the chain of command – if senior leaders don’t respect the chain of command, no one else will.
  4. Listen to the team – focus less on giving orders and more on listening to others ideas.
  5. Take responsibility – blame rolls up hill, so take responsibility for mistakes even if one of your team members made it.
  6. Let the team do their thing – avoid micromanaging. If you’ve put the right team in place, you just need to communicate mission, vision, values and goals. Then step back and let them do the work.
  7. Take good care of yourself – leadership wellness inspires team wellness.

Remember, people may hear your words, but they believe and imitate what you do. So, for best results, do as you want them to do.


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