“Do as I say, not as I do.”
No leader has ever said that.
“But Dr. Rob, I had this one boss...”
Yes, but this is one of the biggest differences between a boss and a leader. Check this out. A leader has been there; he or she has your best interest in mind.They know they must accomplish a goal or obtain a result, so they are going to figure out the best way for the team to do that. It often involves really hard work and you might have to work harder than anyone else. So, if your leader knows you have that capability, then that is a great resource at his or her disposal.
Allow me to illustrate this. A year ago I put together a Spartan Race team of 18individuals. About 2/3 of them were really good athletes! The others had been training hard (for them)—it was their DREAM to finish a Spartan race. There are about 20 “obstacles” on the 5-mile course. When you can’t complete an obstacle, you go over to the “Burpee Zone” and you have to complete 30 burpees before you can continue. Our team shirts pictured Duct Tape and said, “We Stick Together.” At the starting line I got our team together and said:
Today, I’m going to ask every person here to leave it all on the course. I want your very best effort, and we should all be exhausted when we finish. You might be asking how that could be since we have world-class athletes and newbies on the same team. For those of you who are new, you must commit to giving your all! You might not be as fast or as strong, but you have been training hard the past 3 months and you can give 100% of your very best effort. Great athletes, your job is to give your all for the people who are slower than you. As soon as you have finished the obstacle, your only job is to go back and help your teammates, giving 100% of your effort to help them complete the obstacles as well. And if they can’t complete the obstacles, you should be doing most of their burpees for them. And, great athletes, if at any time, you don’t think someone is giving 100% of their best effort, you have my permission to leave them behind.”
What happened next was magic. Every obstacle that we came to, our team instantly went into “let’s get everyone through this” mode. We’re building human pyramidsto get people over large muddy walls, when someone could do a rope climb you’d hear, “How many burpees do you have left?” If the person said “25,” then youinstantly heard, “I’ve got 5 of them, I’ve got 8 of them I’ve got 4 of them,I’ve got five of them...” and suddenly the less skilled athlete only had 3burpees to go... and then we’d all jog to the next obstacle.
But that’s not even the best part. My favorite part of theday was other people asking if they could join our team along the course. Orp eople seeing our shirts and saying, “You people are awesome!” Amidst the mud and the sweat and the tears (and other people/teams dropping “F” Bombs when they were frustrated), our team members were giving High Fives saying, “You didit! Way to go! Let’s keep going.”
Here’sthe lesson. I put the team together, but I wasn’t necessarily the leader. That day, I saw everyone every single person on the team stepping up to give his or her very best effort. Muddy, sometimes bleeding, sore, and AWESOME, they each led by example. They did way more of the talking and leading than I did when we were on the course (I didn’t have enough breath to say much!). And I would gladly follow any one of them. Why? Because they led by example.
BOTTOM LINE: What is an area that you have been slacking or do you know someone who has? Will you commit this week to getting your hands dirty and leading by example?
Watch for Part 2 of Leading by Example next week!
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