Friday, June 29, 2018

Lean Quote: Lead By Example and Make a Difference

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"The reality is that the only way change comes is when you lead by example." — Anne Wojcicki

Although leading by example isn’t exactly a new or revolutionary management style, it is one that many struggle with and one that can be difficult to master. Even the most technical of leaders and those who have all of the certifications they need and all of the rules and regulations memorized, often find that leading by example isn’t as easy as taking a class or memorizing a handbook.

Leading by example not only holds the managers to strict standards but it requires a great deal of interpersonal communication skills. Those who lead by example need to be able to form strong human relationships with those that they need. This can be a challenge for any manager, especially those who aren’t exactly natural born leaders. The good news is, there are several proven strategies that can help any manager, in virtually any field to master the often tricky art of leading by example.

Listen to your team. Practice patience and try to not interrupt when someone is talking. Be attentive, make eye contact, nod and ask pertinent questions. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.

Roll up your sleeves. Show that when a job needs to be done, everyone at every level needs to chip in and participate. Do your part, and make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.

Establish an impeccable standard of excellence. The best way to establish a standard is by modeling the expected behavior yourself. Showcase excellence. When your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you and the bottom line, don't dabble in mediocrity. Reflecting excellence is critical to exercising effective leadership.

Be a fearless problem solver. Instead of freaking out in a bad situation, focus on ways to deal with problems. Be fearless and create solutions. How a leader reacts in a bad situation speaks a lot about his personality. So, make sure that you create a good example for others.

Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth. Great leaders know when to accept that mistakes have been made and take it upon themselves to fix them.

Praise improvement, even minor improvements. Psychologists discovered long ago that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, people are far more likely to repeat that behavior. Most people want to do the right thing, which means you will find far more success in leading a team if you focus on using positive reinforcement rather than negative actions like threats and fear tactics.


When you lead by example your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s trust and faith in you. And it also emphasizes what you stand for. Leading by example shows people exactly what you expect and gives them living proof that it can be done. On a deeper level, leading by example and being as good as your words builds trust. It’s a sign that you take what you say seriously so they can, too.

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