THE BLOG
01/12/2015 12:14 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2015

8 Top Ways to Lead by Example

Good leaders must lead by example. When the actions of leaders are in alignment with what they say ("Walking the Talk"), they become people that inspire others to want to follow them. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. When people are cynical and distrustful, they will never give you their best at work and leading them gets more challenging as a result.

There are many ways leaders can set an example to others, but here are 8 of those ways.

1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth. It detracts from the focus of your team as people turn their attention to covering their backs so to not get blamed for mistakes. When people are focused on protecting themselves, it takes energy and attention away from delivering great results.

2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Being truthful, even when it is feels risky, creates trust and good will with people. It's a common misconception amongst leaders that they should have all the answers and be infallible. But guess what? Your team doesn't expect you to be perfect. If you find you have a tendency to bend the truth, spend time exploring why. Are you feeling threatened? What is the cost of being less than truthful?

3. Be courageous. When times are tough people respect and follow leaders who step up to the challenges. Take the lead in taking calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to the purpose and strategies of your business.

4. Acknowledge failure. Using failure or setback as a learning opportunity is a powerful example to people. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of innovation. Conversely, if you never acknowledge failures, the people around you may not be comfortable admitting it when things are not going well.

5. Be persistent. Setbacks happen to every business, every team and every leader. Role model how to deal with setbacks by reviewing progress and trying a different tack. In doing this you will demonstrate to your team that obstacles don't mean giving up.

6. Create solutions. Don't dwell on problems but move into defining the solutions. Don't be the first to offer up solutions, but ask thoughtful questions of your team to draw out their insights and ideas. When you are a leader, offering your solutions first will often inhibit other ideas.

7. Listen. Following on from the above tip; ask questions and really listen to what people have to say. Minimize distractions, put your phone down, close the office door. Seek to understand by paraphrasing, asking insightful questions and not only will you receive valuable insights, but you create a climate that encourages healthy dialogue.

8. Delegate more. Empower people, give them stretch assignments, develop and grow them. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths, and then reward and recognise their achievements.

Implement these measures as part of your leadership and you'll inspire your people to follow you with renewed dedication.

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations. You can interact with Ros, learn more about leadership and management, and download a complimentary copy of her e-guide on leading change at her website.

Ros also convenes the Shaping Change Inner Circle, an exclusive membership network for driven leaders around the world who are passionate about making a difference, building successful businesses and leveraging the talents and skills of their people. If you want to learn new strategies and game-changing ideas to become a better leader as you lead your organisation to bigger and better things, then the Shaping Change Inner Circle is for you!