Why Leading by Example Does NOT Work

Your example may inspire others, but it doesn’t actually lead others anywhere.

Why Leading by Example Does NOT Work

Leading by example sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? After all, thousands of pages written on leadership, by leadership experts can’t be wrong can they? The problem is you can’t lead by example. Your example may inspire others, it may set behavioral standards for others, your example may even be a prerequisite for authentic leadership, but your example doesn’t actually lead others anywhere. Instead great leaders set the example and then hold the team accountable to the standard. The secret is in the accountability…not the example.

Set Expectations Often & Early

The earlier you state expectations and the standard with a team member the clearer everyone will be on deliverables. Without clearly stated expectations you end up surprising and frustrating team members when you hold them accountable to outcomes they were unaware of.

Don’t Micromanage

Micromanagement discourages production and results instead of encouraging it. Team members tend to resist and rebel against leaders who micromanage them, no matter what kind of “example” they are setting in the workplace.

Follow Through

Do what you say you’re going to do. Reward team members who perform well and correct those who don’t. Follow through and hold team members accountable to the standard.

Coach Those Who Want to Be Coached

Not everyone on your team wants to be coached, even though you may feel they need coaching. So spend time coaching team members who are coachable. Don’t waste your time investing precious time into people who can’t or won’t take coaching.

This article originally appeared here.

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Paul Alexander
Paul is a pastor, speaker, strategist, and ministry consultant at Tony Morgan Live. He has a passion for helping churches make vision real. For more than 11 years he has served on the senior leadership teams of some of the nation’s leading mega-churches. Currently, Paul serves as the Executive Pastor at Sun Valley Community Church, a large multi-site church located in the Phoenix area.
  • Jai Want

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  • Kim

    Very interesting, I tend to agree. You can be an example, and others may admire you, but they will let you do all the work and become lazy.

  • BooBooBaby


  • Mihaela

    What does micromanagement refer to in this article?

  • Chris Long

    I like the points that were made, but I feel the title should say “Why Leading By Example Isn’t Enough”. If you are holding other people accountable and not yourself…. Well lets just say how do you have authority to hold others accountable then?