100% Jodi: Are you leading by example?

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Are you leading by example?

This is a trick question because the reality is you are always leading by example. The question is whether you want the people you lead to do what you are doing.

Like it or not, people are watching what you’re doing and they’re listening closely to what you’re saying. And the higher you go up the leadership chain, the bigger an example you become. There’s a truth that when you reach senior leadership, you are whispering from a megaphone.

Your people are watching you closely to determine what the acceptable behaviors and attitudes are, and what are not.

The question is, are you exemplifying the behavior that you would like to see in the people that you lead? Are your actions consistent with your message?

Leading by example may not always be easy but it’s a must if you want the best chance of hitting your goals and having harmony in the workplace.

In this episode we’re covering what it means to lead by example, how to gauge how effectively you are modeling the behavior you want to see, and how to get better at leading by example.


If you are new to the Women Taking the Lead podcast…hello and welcome!

I’m Jodi Flynn. I’m an executive leadership coach, speaker, and author. I am the current President of the Board for The Maine Women’s Conference. I have the privilege and joy to work with women leaders to hone the skills and the mindset that allow them to grow into and then thrive in Senior Leadership. My specialization is working with women who are still stabilizing after their last promotion and those who want to be ready for the next one.

It is my belief that for more women to hold positions of senior leadership, there are changes at the individual and organizational level that need to occur. Not only do women need to be trained and coached on how to operate at these levels of leadership, organizations need to change their paradigm of how the work gets done and what supports are in place for leaders to do their job.

If we are not already connected on LinkedIn, please send me an invitation to connect. You can find me directly at linkedin.com/in/jodiflynn. You’ll see the Follow button is prominent on my profile but if you click on the More button to the right, you’ll find the option to Connect. Click on that and be sure to add a note to the invitation letting me know you are a listener of the podcast. I would love to connect with you and get to know you better.

What Does it Mean to Lead by Example

Leading by example is essentially walking your talk. When you do this people know that you mean what you say and that you’re not just saying what you’re expected to say, or talking to hear yourself speak.

There are two very practical reasons why leading by example is the way to go:

1) It’s effective. It reinforces what you are saying and gives your team a model to follow. That means the whole team is consistently meeting the same expectations, making it easier to work cohesively. It also quickly brings new team members up to speed on what’s expected. No one is watching behavior more closely than a new member of the team. They’re trying to fit in quickly and are look to see what the norms are.

2) It makes people want to follow you. When you act in accordance with what you say you gain a level of trust and respect. Over time, trust and respect translate into loyalty.

Teams that are Loyal and Happy

When you have team members that are loyal, and happy with the team they are on, they:

  • Have lower absenteeism
  • Higher moral
  • Contribute more frequently to team discussions
  • Volunteer to take on more work
  • Are more likely to help a coworker

And, loyal and happy team members speak highly of their organization to friends, family and neighbors which is great for brand awareness and recruitment.

No surprise, one of the quickest ways to lose all of these benefits is to ask your team to do something that you don’t or won’t do.

We are still to this day hearing stories about leaders not leading by example during the pandemic. Leaders who mandated social-distancing and not gathering with groups, who were then caught going against their own mandates.

These leaders mandated one behavior for their constituents but did not see the need to follow their own mandates. It’s still playing out but there will be many careers in the public eye that will be ended because of this behavior.

How Are You Leading by Example?

Now, think about what you’re asking your team to do in the workplace. It may be coming to meetings on time, communicating if you’re not going to meet a deadline, giving other people space to share their ideas and not interrupting.

Is there anything you’re asking your team to do, or expecting of your team, that you are not exemplifying?

If so, the least of your worries is going to be getting the hairy eyeball. There will be a loss of trust and respect. When that’s missing, your team will not be as forthcoming with you nor will they feel it necessary to do all the things you’re asking them to do.

Yes, some of your team will fashion their behavior based on their own values and their own integrity but you will have lost their trust and respect.

The majority of your team might respond a different way. It’s human nature to bring to a relationship as much effort and commitment as is perceived to be coming from the other person.

You want your team to know, in no uncertain terms, that you are committed to having a relationship of mutual trust, respect, and integrity with them. This is communicated with your actions and your attitude. You communicate this by leading by example.

Leading by Example Through Inquiry

Would you be interested in discovering your strengths as a leader and identifying your gaps, so you can be more confident and competent in your leadership?

I developed the Leadership Operating System Quiz, for women like you. This holistic self-assessment allows you to assess your effectiveness in leading others, leading yourself, your ability to influence, your ability to manage your energy, and your communication skills.

It’s a way for you to quickly identify where you could focus your developmental resources. And it’s not about getting bad news. This quiz will also be an acknowledgement of where you are getting a lot of things right.

Those who have used the Leadership Operating System Quiz have described the questions as engaging and thought-provoking. They appreciated getting insights into which areas to focus on, and really liked the resources that were provided at the end.

It will take you about 3 minutes for you to complete. If you think about it, that’s a quick turnaround to gain insight into what would improve your effectiveness as a leader and make being a leader easier and more enjoyable.

Go to womentakingthelead.com/leadership-abilities-inventory to find out more and to take the Leadership Operating System Quiz.

Gauging Your Effectiveness at Leading by Example

Let’s take a look at how you are doing leading by example thus far.

Are As an exercise, write down all the ways you lead by example or, where you exemplify the values and the behavior that you want to see in others.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What company activities and training are you attending?
  • Who or what do you take time to celebrate during meetings and in company communications?
  • What achievements or projects are you highlighting and, conversely, what achievements or projects are you overlooking?
  • How quickly and in what manner do you address poor performance or an infringement of a company policy, procedure, or team values and norms?
  • What values do you want present at work? How would you live these values?

If you are struggling to find where you leading by example, work on identifying all the ways that you could be modeling the values and the behavior you want to see.

Where Are There More Opportunities to Lead by Example? 

If you’re looking for ideas, here are some things you can do to lead by example:

  • Be truthful and avoid spin that misrepresents a project or results.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Praise your team for good work, effort, positive attitudes, professionalism and failing while trying and learning.
  • Highlight what the company is doing and the impact it is having.
  • Find opportunities to reinforce the company’s mission.
  • Be your word and follow through on your promises.
  • Come to work ready to make a difference.
  • Work alongside your team, and jump in when you are needed.
  • Follow the rules and guidelines you’ve set and the rules and guidelines of the organization.
  • Trust your team to do what is right.
  • Attend workshops and training sessions.
  • Listen and be open to seeing a different perspective.
  • Be aware of your words and actions and the impact they have on others.

Leading by Example in summary

According to the Harvard Business Review, “the true lead-by-example test is who follows those examples and how. Do colleagues and clients see those examples as leadership? Are direct reports inspired to admire and emulate? When people describe ‘the right way’ of getting the job done or getting the best out of people, is an example explicitly referenced? These questions aren’t rhetorical; they’re central to meaningful and measurable leadership development.”

Leading by example is the fastest way to train your team. It is a call for integrity and excellence. To lead a high-performing team, you must first model a high-performing team member. No one else can do it for you.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” ~ Albert Einstein

Let’s Chat!

If you’re interested in finding out more about my process, the cost of coaching, or how to ask your employer to pay for you to work with a coach, schedule a time to chat with me.

You can also access the checklist that will help you prepare to ask your company to sponsor you to work with a coach. https://womentakingthelead.com/checklist

As always, I hope this was of value to you and here’s to your success!


Apply to be on an “On-Air Coaching” episode: Are you a female leader who has been promoted in the last year? You are invited to apply to be on the podcast.

Checklist to Ask Your Company for Coaching: Would coaching help you become a stronger leader? Wondering if your company would pay? It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Leadership Operating System Inventory. Wondering what kind of Leadership traits you have? Take this FREE, FAST self-assessment and find out more about yourself as a Leader.

Leadership Coaching: If you interested in finding out more about my coaching process, the cost of coaching, or how to ask your employer to pay for you to work with a coach, schedule a call with me.

Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to DoingThe book containing a simple, step by step system that gives you the foundation and structure to take your goals and make them happen.

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