Learn to lead by example

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Do your actions align with the values of your business? Walter Bellin from Corporate Crossroads says that to effectively lead and influence others you need to make sure you walk the talk first.

A leader’s ability to influence, engage with and win the commitment of the people they lead is determined by how well the leader’s words match their actions. Generally people are much more influenced by watching the day-to-day behaviour of a leader than by hearing their words. They want to know: does the leader really believe in and hold the values that they claim to believe in and hold? Are the leader’s daily actions consistent with the priorities and objectives they espouse? Do they, in fact, really walk the talk? It is these things that determine whether a leader is seen to be authentic – and this will affect people more powerfully than anything the leader says.

Clearly, it is the leadership role – when undertaken by authentic and inspiring leaders – that breathes life and spirit into a company or firm. The management role, of course, is still very important – a business can flounder just as badly when its activities are poorly managed as when it is poorly led. Yet a well-managed organisation in which managers and executives lack real leadership skills will not win the engagement, loyalty and commitment of its people. It is fostering these human characteristics among the organisation’s people that creates high-performance cultures.

Over the past 25 years in consulting with over 200 companies and professional firms, I have noticed that many managers and executives spend much more time managing than leading. Partly I think this is due to many managers feeling more comfortable managing than leading, since many have not taken the time to develop the self awareness, self management and people skills that are essential.  Partly I believe it is because they do not realise how greater emphasis on leadership will improve the performance of their business. Invariably, when managers and executives focus much more on developing and using their leadership capabilities, the organisations they are leading experience two interrelated results: there is a major improvement in business performance – and employee morale and retention is much higher!