I listened the other day to someone explaining why there was no point in being honest about why they hadn’t been at work the previous day. ‘My boss claims he is in a meeting in London when he wants to go and play golf, so why should I say that my wife was ill? I will pretend it was me who had a virus.’

This man had not done anything wrong in taking time off to care for his wife, yet he preferred to maintain the standards of his workplace and cover up with a story.

It made me think about the power of the example the leader sets for his or her team. We all, as leaders, sometimes fail to set the best of examples. I know that I have been guilty of the ‘do as I say not as I do’ syndrome at times. Nonetheless, we need to be really conscious of how powerful we are in determining how others around us behave.

It is worth spending a little time thinking about what example you would prefer to give to others:

  • Are you true to your values, or do you compromise them?
  • Do you bring your human beingness into the workplace or act as if you are a robot when you are at work?
  • Do you ensure that you are in a good state – enough food, sleep, time off – or do you stretch yourself to your absolute limits, and then perform less than well?
  • Do you pay attention to people when they talk to you or wonder how long it will be before you can escape?
  • Do you keep people informed of what is happening or use the information you have as power over others?
  • Do you take risks or always play it safe?
  • Do you admit when you are wrong or try to cover it up?

Of course, this list could go on and on, but this will give you a starting point to consider!

Everyone is affected by their leader. He or she sets the tone for the department or organisation, whether they like it or not. We spend a lot of time in different companies, and we know what the boss is like before we even meet them. We just have to watch how the team behave! Whatever you tell them to do, they will do what you do, so make sure you get what you want from them by being like it yourself.

About Di Kamp

Di Kamp is chief executive of Meta and has been involved in the field of developing people and organisations for 35 years. She has worked with a variety of organisations, and specialises in enabling senior managers to guide their organisations from good enough to excellence, and enabling management teams to lead their people in a way that will enhance their performance. Di has written several books, including manuals for trainers, one on staff appraisals, one on workplace counselling, one on improving your excellence as a trainer, one on people skills, and one on being a 21st century manager. She is currently preparing a further book on the secret of sustainable successful organisations.

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