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One of the most difficult things a leader must do is to model the behaviour they ask of their employees.
But it’s necessary.
If employees don’t see their leaders stand up and lead by example, employees will feel less engaged—and be less willing to do their best work.
At Juice, we often hear the same complaint from organizational leaders we work with: “My team needs to be more teamwork-oriented.”
But at least half the time, we find it’s the leaders—not the employees—who create the challenges and barriers to having a stronger team.
In fact, when Juice does training sessions, employees often ask us if the senior team is going to receive training as well—because “they really need it.”
What’s the corporate will?
When Juice first meets with organizations, we always ask them the same question—“what’s the corporate will?”
In other words, we want to know the overall willingness of leaders to:
An organization open to leading by example is willing to do all the bullets listed above.
That means no cherry-picking.
Juice was once hired to offer coaching training to an organization. During session planning, the VP of Human Resources assured us that corporate will was high, and the CEO himself would attend the training along with employees.
The CEO did attend—which was fantastic! Unfortunately, he sat at the back of the room, doing paperwork and checking his BlackBerry the entire time.
You can imagine what kind of silent message he sent to his workforce about the importance of coaching and training.
When I asked the CEO for his impressions of the importance of coaching his leaders, he told me that he was “not paid to coach, and neither are my VPs.”
Unbeknownst to him, many of his direct reports had highly recommended the CEO do the training: they felt he had a blind spot that could be mended if he could just take the time to open himself up to it.
In other words, it’s not enough to just pay lip service to corporate will. If you don’t want to change—or put the effort into it—nobody else will either.
Perfection not necessary
Leaders are often fearful of walking the talk, simply because they are afraid of looking less leader-like. But the great thing is that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to try.
When people see you trying to model the behaviour you ask of them, they will give you points for your intent and effort.
The fact that you initiate a change in your own behaviour, reflect on it and show some vulnerability to your team will create a sense of “we’re trying to be better together.”
Learn how to inspire and energize employees to change their behavior for better business results: download our white paper, The Engagement Paradox, today!
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
General Manager and Director of Sales
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Senior Facilitator & Keynote Speaker