Leading by Example

January 28, 2010

It has been said that leading by example is the best way to lead and I certainly agree, but in so many cases leaders take on an approach of “do as I say, not as I do”. Leading by example is based on the basic principle that you have to model the behaviors, you want others to exhibit. Why then, in the corporate world does this basic principle go by the way side?
I am sure that if you are reading this post right now the thoughts going through your head are of all the examples of this you see every day, but I will share some examples that I see at some expansion stage companies.  

  • The sales manager who insists on conducting pipeline reviews on a spread sheet instead of using the SFA/ CRM implementation.
  • The project manager who prefers to keep documents stored on their desktop and communicates via email, instead of using the collaboration tool.

In Salesforce implementations leading by example can be particularly important, and I always try to lead by example when working with all of our internal stake holders (partners, associates, analysts, and admins). Likewise, I advise the people I work with at our portfolio companies to do the same. 
Though I may be wrong, I think there probably are some situations in which a “do as I say, not as I do” leadership approach is warranted. However, leading by example is difficult, and it takes discipline and commitment. I believe that in most cases when managers resort to a “do as I say, not as I do” approach it is a result of stubbornness, resistance to change, laziness, or some combination of the like. To avoid falling into such behavior, managers should monitor and reflect on their own actions, as much if not more than the people they manage. 
Setting that kind of example is likely producing great results. 

VP, Sales

Ori Yankelev is Vice President, Sales at <a href="https://www.ownbackup.com/">Own Backup</a>. He was previously a Sales and Marketing Associate for OpenView.