How often have you run into a leader who's been successful at guiding others by saying one thing and then doing something different? Not very often, right? That's simply because it doesn't work!
It's highly likely that principles taught without the right examples being put into practice will eventually fall by the wayside.
Especially if you're in a position of authority, it is of utmost importance to lead by example if you expect to gain compliance.
Leading by example will ensure these benefits:
1. Support of the principles based on results. For example, if you're teaching honesty, when people see for themselves that you gain the trust of others by being honest, they will likely see the benefits of being honest themselves.
2. Full understanding of the principles. Just imparting principles to others isn't always enough. In fact, the majority of people may have a completely different understanding of what's expected of them.
3. Cohesion and cooperation. This is particularly true whenever team effort is required. When everybody is on the same page, processes, departments and families run more cohesively.
4. Respect. When others can see that you are fully complying with the principles you teach, you'll ultimately gain their respect.
Disastrous Results of Not Practicing What You Preach
So what happens when you try to teach certain life principles but allow your actions to dictate otherwise?
You're bound to run into any or all of the following situations:
- Those you expect compliance from will very soon grow to resent you, especially if the principles you're teaching are a challenge for them to perform.
- You may end up with a negative reputation as an ineffective leader or teacher as you lose sight of the very actions you teach.
- Cases of rebellion will continue to grow as more and more people feel they're being dictated to instead of led.
How to Start Leading By Example
It's very easy to outline your expectations; it's the simplest part of the equation. And that's a start, because at least you know what the principles are. As they say, “Knowing is half the battle” but in this case, it's the smaller half!
It may take a lot of effort to really walk the talk and practice the behaviors that you want others to emulate. However, you can get started practicing this positive principle on a daily basis with only a small effort:
Start small and stick to your immediate circle of influence.
- Give yourself the opportunity to impart morals and good belief systems on your immediate family and close friends.
- Tackle each principle one at a time.
- Work hard at allowing it to become an integral part of your everyday life.
Once you've mastered one, move on to something else. However, it's important to be able to give testimony to the fact that there are actually greater benefits to adhering to that particular principle than not adhering. There is an element of fulfillment when you can show others just what kind of actions, thoughts and behaviors contribute to a better, more wholesome outcome.
Walking the talk is a lifelong journey. There may be times that you'll fall below your own expectations and the principles you aspire to uphold. However, what's important is that you recognize it and take the necessary steps to get back on track!