There are many types of leaders and different styles of leadership that work with varying degrees of effectiveness.
A few examples include:
- The autocratic leader
- The bureaucratic leader
- The charismatic leader
- The democratic leader
- The laissez-faire leader
However, regardless of the style of leadership, there is one thing that they all have in common – they all lead by example in one way or another.
The examples that business leaders and executives set with their team ultimately establish the standard for work habits and company culture within their workplace.
For this reason, it’s important for leaders to set the tone for healthy work habits and establish a clear path for their teams to follow.
6 Tips for Modeling Healthy Work Habits
1. Do as I do (and as I say)!
Leading by example is about finding alignment between what you say and what you do. If there is a clear dissonance between what you ask of your team and what you do yourself then it can cause resentment or confusion within your team.
Setting an expectation for teams to do as they say will help establish trust and reliability across the team, which will make your team more effective at collaboration.
2. Learn to explain “why”
The reality is that leaders and executives typically have demanding schedules and competing priorities on a daily basis. This can sometimes make it difficult to lead by example in the same way that you might expect staff to behave each day. This is why it’s important to learn to explain why there may be a difference in expectations or requirements for different roles.
While some standards may be universal across the team, there are other expectations that need to be modified depending on the person. Explaining the ‘why’ behind this will help others understand when there are differences across the team.
3. Embrace your mistakes
Leaders aren’t immune to mistakes. Neither are their employees. It’s important for leaders to embrace their own mistakes and to teach their team that they are actually opportunities to learn and improve. This sets a healthy habit for the workplace and can help encourage a culture of fearlessness, which drives better innovation and growth within a team.
This also demonstrates to teams that their leader is not a hypocrite and can be approached when something is not going to plan. Problems always arise, but how a team responds to solving that problem is the difference between success and failure.
4. Don’t sugarcoat
Leaders typically want as much transparency as possible when receiving reports from their team. This provides clarity and accurate insight into a team’s progress and effectiveness.
It’s important for leaders themselves to avoid “sugarcoating” their own updates on company-wide challenges to their team if they want to receive the same transparency from their employees. Any attempt to make an update seem better than reality is not productive and can actually get in the way of advancing a project.
Executives should avoid ‘dressing up’ their own words if they expect the same from the team. Facts are facts – keep them that way.
5. Hold yourself responsible
If a leader says that they will do something for their team, they must ensure that it is completed as promised. This sets a strong healthy habit that holds people accountable for what they say, which is a critical characteristic of a successful team.
Leaders are in a unique position to set this tone and since they are the ones who are typically asking the most, they need to clearly demonstrate that they also always deliver when they are responsible for executing a task.
Leading By Example Doesn’t Mean Doing It Yourself
While leading by example is crucial for establishing appropriate behavior and a healthy attitude for others in the workplace, leaders shouldn’t get this confused with thinking that ‘leading by example’ means doing everything themselves.
While it’s important to set values and tone for the company culture, it is equally as important to create well-defined roles and responsibilities for everyone on the team. Examples should be set by leaders in order to express how people should act and take responsibility for their tasks through the workday so that everyone holds themselves to a similar standard.
Leaders and executives need to carry themselves in a manner that they would expect from their teams, including integrating healthy work habits into their lives. Leadership that is able to do this will find that the positive qualities of themselves that they are trying to express will be reflected in their team and will lead to a thriving company culture.
Want to learn more about what it takes to be an effective leader? Find more leadership advice here.