Advertising
Advertising

Published on December 7, 2020

3 Powerful Ways To Lead By Example At Work

3 Powerful Ways To Lead By Example At Work

The workplace is our modern-day version of an adult playground, full of many different people, personalities, and perceptions. Each person brings a unique edge to the office that collectively creates a diverse array of skill sets that can benefit the company. In order to bring everyone together, a leader must lead by example.

How do we develop systems and procedures to bring out each player’s best in the corporate playground? By creating practical leadership principles and habits of execution.

Leadership will always be the bread and butter of business because it centers us around a common theme and mission. Much like the philosophy of the armed forces and Navy Seals[1], leaders are made, not born. The same is true in business.

Leaders aren’t inherently any different from those they lead regarding their physiology or body composition. Still, they do possess other characteristics and habits that may not be apparent to the naked eye.

Leaders don’t need to have a leadership title to be leaders. Every employee of a company should have to think and act like a leader in some way, shape, or form. So what separates the good leaders from the great leaders?

Great leaders lead by example.

The classic “monkey see monkey do” mentality refers to both the primitive brain structures that help us form daily habits and the specific neuronal networks in the brain—mirror neurons[2]—that allow us to observe others’ activity. When we watch others perform tasks, these neuronal systems become active and fire similar brain regions in our brains that would be needed to perform similar tasks and actions.

Advertising

Actions will always speak louder than words in the workplace because actions lead to execution and results. Knowledge is useless without application, which is why authentic leaders choose to lead with their actions and not just their words.

1. Bring the Best Version of Yourself

To get the best out of your people, you need to get the best out of yourself first. The doctor who tells the patient to stop smoking right after they stepped out of the office for a cigarette is not only a hypocrite; they’re also setting a poor example for their patient to follow.

Anyone who is a parent knows how this equation plays out in the long run with raising children[3]. The things you tell your kids not to do end up becoming a habit of theirs because they’re too busy watching you do it while avoiding what you told them not to do.

The same is true for leaders in the workplace. If you expect your employees to be on time, ready to go, and at work early, you better be willing to set the example for them. Not just once, but repeatedly over time. Practicing what you preach will build trust and benefit company culture.

These coveted office relationships built out of trust and respect are reciprocally advantageous for the overall health and well being of the respective parties. A recent Gallup poll uncovered evidence suggesting direct reports experience a 15% greater chance of thriving and overall improved well-being due to their immediate supervisors having higher levels of well being[4].

Company culture is continuously sliding on a spectrum due to the continually evolving array of actions, outcomes, and emotions mixed into a business setting. This concept is vital for a multitude of reasons.

Leaders Should Set the Example

It’s the leader’s responsibility to set an example for their coworkers. If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone tells you one thing and does the complete opposite, you’ve experienced this disconnect. It’s unsettling at best and subsequently causes you to lose trust in that individual.

Advertising

Change Starts With Leaders

Leaders must be the change they wish to see in their organization and business. Company initiatives may sound great in theory, but they rarely take hold and grow if people don’t support it through taking action. Checking a box is far more comfortable than changing behaviors.

Leaders Motivate Others to Improve

When you show changes through your actions, it’s far easier for your team members and coworkers to do the same. Improved collaboration and communication through teamwork is estimated to increase employee productivity by nearly 20-25%[5].

If teamwork can genuinely make the dream work, leaders of the future need to realize the importance of integration, taking action, and supporting your company initiatives through high-level communication.

2. Be an Effective Communicator

Communication is the foundation for success in business and life. Nothing noteworthy gets done without effective communication, but not all communication is created equally.

Humans are social animals. There’s no way to argue around it, which is why communication and honest conversation can be one of the most efficient ways to lead your people and business to success.

Communication is so much more than the words we use[6]. It’s how we use our bodies and make facial expressions, which can hide in the words we say and choose not to say.

Choosing not to say something is also a decision made, which could have dire consequences for those who listen well enough to pick up on it. True leaders listen far more than they speak, but they listen to understand and find ways to solve problems with follow-up comments and questions, which is a great way to lead by example.

Advertising

High-level leaders understand the importance of communication, pair it together with associated soft skills of listening intentionally, asking questions, and using simple gestures for approval, such as a head nod or smile.

In a world full of digital distractions, chatbots, online messaging, and web-based communication, we lose the humanistic communication component. For many, this lack of human connection can change the culture of the office.

Effective communicators know the difficulties in these practices, as there will always be conversations that need to happen that are uncomfortable, concerning, and confrontational in nature. Real leaders must be willing to toss their ego aside to have these conversations because they know the temporary struggle is worth the long term outcomes of success and improved outcomes.

Leaders who cannot have difficult conversations or share their real opinions on matters will be accomplices to the corporation’s slow bleed and gradual degradation. The corporate culture of the 21st century won’t have time to tolerate those who beat around the bush and use ineffective means of communication. These individuals will be left behind and have no chance to find their way back.

3. Show Empathy

Emotional intelligence is arguably one of the most important traits for leaders to possess in the 21st-century workplace. It’s a guiding factor for long-term success[7] and building relationships, among many other factors.

One of the greatest strengths of emotional intelligence is the ability to show empathy towards your colleagues, coworkers, and office personnel, so make it an integral part of your practice when you lead by example.

Placing yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective isn’t easy, but it’s one of the quickest ways to build trust and show that you care. It’s also a great way to build long-term relationships that can improve company culture[8].

Advertising

Skills strengthened by empathy to lead by example

    Leaders who show empathy set the tone for future interactions and conversations, especially with the hard conversations that are inevitable in the workplace[9]. Over 90% of HR professionals, CEO’s, and employees believe empathy is an essential factor in the proper functioning of a workplace[10]. In fact, it’s so important that 8 in 10 employees stated that they are willing to leave a job or employer who isn’t empathetic[11].

    Empathy in the workplace can also significantly improve the company’s overall health and well-being[12], with medical institutions and hospitals now teaching medical professionals how to use empathy in the clinic to enhance their patient outcomes. And since we can improve[13] and grow our ability to use empathy, it’s a skill that should continuously be groomed and worked on overtime.

    The Bottom Line

    As a leader, your actions and words are always under the microscope. The team members who depend on you for guidance and execution seek this constant feedback. While actions will always speak louder than words, your words and communication style need to be in alignment with what you do as you lead by example.

    While it may seem trivial, consistently coming up short with actions and words will lead to more significant problems down the road as colleagues lose trust in your abilities to fulfill your duties.

    Trust and respect can’t be demanded; they must be earned, especially in the workplace. Titles and roles can only carry your responsibilities so far, which means that it is up to you to take these steps and implement them into your daily habits.

    Consistency is the easiest way to build your reputation as a leader who can execute on tasks, develop your team, and grow your company’s platform.

    More on How to Lead by Example

    Featured photo credit: CoWomen via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Erik Reis

    Peak-Performance Leadership Consultant

    Here’s What To Do When You Are Getting Exhausted At Work 3 Powerful Ways To Lead By Example At Work 5 Ways to Maximize Productivity While Working From Home

    Trending in Leadership

    1 4 Effective Ways To Collaborate With Your Team 2 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity 3 How to Become a Leader That People Respect 4 The Importance of Delegating Leadership (And How to Do It) 5 How To Be Successful In Leadership As an Introverted Leader

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

    Advertising

    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

    Advertising

    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

    Advertising

    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

      Advertising

      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

      More Productivity Tips

      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next