Opportunities to Lead By Example

Have you ever felt like going rogue? The urge may be especially tempting right now when nothing seems normal. I am not suggesting you go completely rogue when there is a structure that needs to be followed. However, doing things differently is becoming normal. Disruption is already present. Getting past resistance to disrupt the status quo is half the battle when change is needed. 

Use this unusual opportunity to put forward and even try out a productive and perhaps long-awaited innovation or idea for improvement.

In my previous article I told a story about a simple ‘lead by example’ change I made that had a lasting impact. Here are 3 areas where you can spot both subtle and impactful opportunities to lead by example:

1) Communication  – During quarantine, with the stresses of unfamiliar situations and family in close quarters, notice where you might lead by example to improve communication. Perhaps there are some patterns of communicating (or not) that are messy, ineffective, or even unnecessary. What simple steps can you implement to improve the situation? Share the change with others either quietly by example, or by making a clear request to everyone concerned. In my world, it is always a plus for everyone (even team leaders and parents) to say please and thank you. Equally valuable is apologizing sincerely and appropriately when something goes off track – because something definitely will.

2) Processes and Systems – Look up from your screen (or work, or project, or habits) and notice what process or system you use that causes you irritation or frustration. See it as a leadership opportunity instead of a pain. Why it is done that particular way? Perhaps now, especially if you are working remotely or with reduced resources, it is obviously cumbersome or outdated. Is there a simplification or more efficient step you can try out and still achieve the required outcome? 

Don’t wait until a breakdown cripples your ability to keep things moving. 

3) Acknowledgment – Pay attention to those whose partnership, services, and/or support impact you in a positive way. Include both the little and the big things. Express your appreciation verbally or in writing directly to that person, and when appropriate and possible, to their boss. Include how their efforts impacted you specifically.

Making a difference in a group or community doesn’t always require explanations, or obtaining permission, or a position of authority. Sometimes a simple action of leadership by example is enough, and the influence lasts. 

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