Lead by Example

If you want team members to work effectively, you should be doing the work with them, at least occasionally. This is especially true when it comes to tasks that many leaders find beneath their level in the organization because it sends powerful signals that build a better team. I started out as an hourly skilled laborer in my organization and I can tell you first hand, I had little respect for bosses I never saw on the shop floor. Here are 4 benefits to getting out there.

1. By sweeping a shop floor or stocking a warehouse shelf, it shows you are humble and not above a little manual labor with the team. This motivates the team by showing them the task is important enough to the success of the organization that the boss will spend time on it. I get in early enough to help the night shift clean up and the day shift to get staged and ready. This signals the team that I’m committed to working hard and putting in hours outside of the normal business day to contribute to the success of the organization. They’ll work harder in return.

2. It shows you care that the task gets done and done the way you would if it was your daily job. This sets a standard for quality that the team may not arrive at on their own if you’re telling them what to do and how to do it from the office. You’ll earn respect from the people who matter the most; the ones doing the work that’s essential to sustaining the business. A level of participation and quality will be achieved that won’t be if you never show up and pitch in to set the example.

3. I guarantee you will find things that need improved to be more efficient along the way. Ask the team members you’re working with questions about the process. This lets them know you care about the safety and efficiency of the work being performed and that you’re committed to improving the organization when you see opportunities. Next time, they’ll come to you with suggestions on ways to improve. Don’t worry that they’ll find out you don’t know how everything works; keep your ego in check and approach it as an opportunity to understand the business better, the team will respect you for the efforts.

4. Successful teams are built on successful relationships and you won’t build those relationships if you’re not getting out and visiting employees at all levels of the organization, especially your direct reports. They’ll be more comfortable and open up more when you’re working alongside them. You’ll be in a position to put rumors to rest and share opportunities for growth with the team to help them feel secure the organization is in good shape. People fear the unknown and if you’re not talking about the positives, they will assume the worst and may look for other positions.

Make time to get out there and lead by example!


Don’t Overreact

Everyone has been through challenging times in their lives that are discouraging or even traumatic. Most of us tend to fight fire with fire when faced with these challenges and many times we end up making poor decisions because we’re being driven by emotions or ego in an effort to counteract the situation and immediately make it better. This reactionary behavior makes things worse, leading to more despair, more bad decisions, until something breaks the pattern, hopefully before hitting rock bottom in a dark place.

I recommend freezing in these situations and allowing your emotions to settle before making any large decisions. This does two things: 1. It allows you to reflect on how you ended up in the situation and whether or not the outcome was ever under your control to influence. 2. It will bring clarity to the situation and allow you to make an informed decision based on facts, not emotion. You’ll find that being intentional about this process will improve your decision making abilities and bring you peace of mind when you come to the realization that you don’t need to try and fix things immediately, especially when they’re outside of your sphere of influence.

Ego drives this type of reactionary behavior because we either want to show the world we never fail, or that we can fix other people’s failures. Certain cultures and demographics are more prone to reactionary behavior and decision making based on ego, which is why it’s critically important to build a diverse team. A diverse team that’s empowered to push back will keep the ego in check and allow for a well thought out decision to be made with input from several different perspectives.

Is your organization struggling to make meaningful changes or develop new ideas for problems that have plagued you forever? If the answer is yes, it’s probably time to look around and see if your team is diverse enough to reduce group think and empowered enough to push back against employees with strong egos who are having an outsized influence on the decisions.