Modeling behavior is necessary for your own well-being as well as those of your team member’s.
Leadership is not just bringing people together and ensuring that they are working towards the shared goals of the organization. It’s also about ensuring your employees are able to grow professionally and personally by following your words with actions.
What does it mean to walk the talk?
Lead with integrity.
Owning your mistakes and weaknesses make it safe for your team members to own theirs. This environment prevents the time-consuming and negative practice of blaming others for mishaps. A culture of blame will quickly create dissatisfied employees.
Some leaders mistake humility with constant apologies about their shortcomings. Apologizing for situations that you were a participant of shows vulnerability that strengthens the team. But don’t dwell on your shortcomings. Apologize with sincerity, then focus your time and brain power to fix the situation. Move past the blame and towards solutions. When you admit your shortcomings and learn from them it creates an environment of transparency.
Set and follow boundaries.
What’s great about technology is that we can easily check what’s happening with our work via phone, text messages, and emails. The downside is there is no real boundary of when our work hours start and when it ends. This means it’s up to you as a leader to be a champion of self-care for yourself and your team members. Unless it falls in the “need to take care now or the organizations sinks” category, don’t email your reports in the middle of the night, when they’re on vacation, or during weekends.
“Well, it’s their choice if they want to read and answer my emails”, you’re thinking to yourself. No. As a leader, you work hard to establish connection and trust with your team members. When that happens they will, of course, go above and beyond to support you. You’re putting them in a situation where they have to choose between themselves and their career. When you say that you care about your employees and their well-being, you need to actually put these words into action. This also means that when you are supposed be away from the office, on vacation or out sick, you don’t respond to emails or calls unless it’s a real emergency. This is about mutual respect and trust. Respect for your well-being as well as your reports’. And trust in your employees’ skills and integrity to complete their projects.
Create an environment where everyone feels acknowledged and empowered. Start by only asking employees what you are willing to do yourself. Flaunting special privileges as a leader only invites resentment and will get the team nowhere. Aside from showing that you are more than willing to go in the trenches with everyone else, give recognition to others. Promote and elevate your team members. Not only will this build morale for the whole team but will make the whole organization stronger.
Sure, you can continue being that type of leader who sets guidelines but feels too privileged to follow them. But it’s easier to lead by example. Your behavior at work is the lesson you teach.