Based on an article in Inc. Magazine written by Jeff Haden, this article addresses the fifth on a list of eight things truly outstanding leaders do without thinking: set the example.
For this fifth installment, Valencia employees Diane Fahr, director financial services, Jacquelyn Thompson, director enrollment services, and Erica Reese, director, standardized testing, share how they interact with their teams to build confidence, momentum and support.
Set the Example
Employees notice what you do. When you’re in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do and what that says about you. Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it’s important to them. It’s part of who they are. They care about “go, not show,” and in time, so do the people they work with.
Diane Fahr has discovered that the best way to communicate what is important to her and to her team is to explain why it is important.
“I have found that a great team is built from respect and trust. When I express why there is an emphasis of importance, the team is more likely to respect, though not necessarily agree with, my emphasis of importance. I lead my team into a collaborative discussion where the importance is shared amongst and from each member,” Diane explained.
One lesson Diane has learned about herself is her passion to share, to live life out loud and to embrace teachable moments.
“There’s something to be said when encouraging and promoting your teams to embrace their passions. Managing a team of passionate members has its challenges, but the benefit is far more reaching than one would imagine.”
Jacquelyn Thompson believes that leaders impact their teams through actions, example and the behaviors they model.
“If we want our staff to work as a team, we need to be a team player. I agree with a quote attributed to Peter Drucker: ‘Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.’ Setting an example of how I wish for my team to act comes from an inner compass that points me toward rolling up my sleeves, being honest and acting fairly, which supports my personal and professional values and expectations,” Jacquelyn shared.
A tangible example of this “set the example” philosophy is when, during summer 2014, one of Jacquelyn’s enrollment services teams needed to work beyond normal work hours to accomplish its goals.
“I had the privilege to support that team by working with them during these extended hours. As a leader, I have learned that setting the example means never asking a team member to do something I am not willing to do myself.”
Erica Reese shared her viewpoint that, “If you lead with a sincere love for your staff, then it becomes easier to encourage and desire to be the example. The more I love my team members for their individual strengths, the more I want to show them how to love others just the same. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.”
Setting the example can impact a work team in a variety of ways.
“I personally look at it as a ‘do or die’ principle. If I fail to be an example of what I desire for my team, then the impact becomes a lack of respect and dominoes into a resentful and dispirited work environment,” explained Erica.
Erica continually finds ways for her staff to see the connections and value of their work.
“When I show my staff members love and respect for them as a person, my belief is, they can learn how to give the same love and respect to their co-workers and students.”
These Valencia leaders demonstrate how setting the example for their team is the bedrock of building great trust and commitment. Sharing passions and creating personal connections with their teams are vital keys to their success.