Leadership is about helping others to succeed and reach their full potential. Leadership is inextricably linked to integrity, namely doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Leadership puts you regularly in the spotlight with colleagues and employees. Since many eyes are frequently on you, the best method to lead is by example. Not only does this put you in a positive light, but it encourages your employees to model their own behaviors after you.
The Golden Rule
Remember the rule you were taught in elementary school — treat everyone like you want to be treated? Those words still ring true today, especially as a leader. It’s the law of reciprocity, a social psychology term that means people have a tendency to repay what others have bestowed upon them. If you treat your employees with kindness and respect, they are apt to do the same for you as well as their peers. This sense of obligation fosters healthy work relationships.
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Everyone makes mistakes, even leaders. If something goes wrong and you are culpable, take responsibility. Not only will it show your employees that even the boss can make mistakes, but the boss makes mistakes and recognizes them. This establishes credibility with your employees and they are apt to model their behavior after yours.
It’s Okay to Say “I don’t know.”
Sometimes “I don’t know” can be the best answer you can provide to someone. If there’s a question you can’t answer, it’s better to be truthful and say “I don’t know,” rather than saying something that could be true (which many of us do I expect). It’s common for people to expect leaders to know everything, but the truth is they, or we, don’t. No one is perfect or has all of the answers. By demonstrating this behavior, your employees will begin to understand that it’s okay if they don’t know everything as well and can go to others for guidance. As I like to say, two heads are always better than one.
Keep the Chain of Command in Check
The chain of command establishes a hierarchy and gives people a clear sense of responsibility. If individuals ignore the chain of command, it can erode team morale and overall productivity. According to Chron, companies without a clear chain of command are more likely to operate in an atmosphere of uncertainty and chaos, impacting morale and productivity of the employees in an organization.
The chain of command starts with the leader, so keep the command in check by respecting the chain yourself. If information needs to filter down to your front-line employees, inform your middle-level management and ask them to execute or “own it”. Your employees, in turn, will begin to model this behavior by adapting to the chain of command and going to the appropriate person in the chain when issues arise in the future.