Many leaders believe their role is to improve their members and shape their thoughts and behaviors. Those leaders spend countless hours trying to mold their followers.
This thinking causes leaders to miss the single most important leadership principle: leading by example. Leading by example translates to practicing what you preach, walking the walk and talking the talk, and doing what you say you will do. Members clearly see how you react under pressure and also what you view as important. Your values are transparent. When you lead by example, the practices you incorporate will inspire others to follow you and to emulate you.
There are five basic rules for leading by example:
1. Treat others as you expect to be treated. No leader should consider themselves to be better than the members or expect to receive royal treatment. Instead, a true leader’s goal will be to treat others with respect and give them a sense of importance. Every member must be treated with dignity.
2. Be more interested in listening to members than talking to members. Your role as a leader is not about YOU, it is about your members and the association you are leading. Don’t waste your breath telling members how great you are. Instead, listen to their concerns and their issues. Listen to the solutions they suggest. While ultimate decisions will be based on what is best for the whole, your members must know that you value their input.
3. Look at the positives, not the negatives. Negative thinking breeds unhealthy attitudes and poor results. It makes successful outcomes seem impossible. Members are drawn to leaders who have positive attitudes and the ability to resist or overcome negativity.
4. Help others along the way. A leader’s role is to set members up for success. When your term is over, you should be able to say you’ve not only empowered your members, but you’ve inspired them to follow in your footsteps as a future leaders.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your role is important but, again, this is not about YOU. You are human, You make mistakes. Whether you succeed or whether you fail, do not take yourself too seriously. This will give you the ability to identify with your members. You may be the person who ultimately makes things happens, but you cannot do this without the enthusiasm and hard work of your members.
As you take on any leadership role, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect leader. You can come close to perfection, though, by setting an example of hard work, truth, honesty and never-ending empathy for the cares and concerns of members
2009 Vicki Voisin, Inc.
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