Leading by Example: A Manager’s Guide to Inspiring Success

Employees take conscious and unconscious cues from managers, which impacts company culture in obvious and subtle ways. An influential leader who guides by example builds a culture of trust. Are you ready to become that influential leader?

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of effective leadership and provide you with nine valuable tips on how to lead by example as a manager!

Workplace Benefits of Leading by Example

A survey by Gallup revealed some remarkable results of effective leadership. Managers who inspire by example create the following results in their companies:

  • They foster trust, accountability, and better communication.
  • Their decisions are driven by productivity.
  • Effective leaders motivate and engage their teams by communicating a compelling mission and vision.
  • They overcome adversity and seamlessly manage resistance.

The result of these benefits is higher productivity, better morale, and even improved employee retention.

9 Tips to Lead by Example as a Manager

While Gallup’s survey revealed that outstanding managers are relatively rare in the workplace, it’s important to note that effective leadership can be learned. Leading by example showcases your management skills, makes your team feel motivated and valued, and produces better outcomes. Here are a few ways to better promote these outcomes on your team:

Demonstrate Reliability

Employees know you can be trusted when your actions match your words and follow through on your promises. Demonstrating reliability and consistency is an excellent way to lead by example. When your team sees your commitment, their confidence grows. They are more likely to be engaged, ask questions, and take ownership of their responsibilities.

Model a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude has the ability to influence your team. When you exude positivity, it has a way of spreading throughout your work environment, creating a ripple effect among your employees. This good energy can contribute to your employees’ sustained momentum and motivation.

Don’t Isolate from Your Team

If a manager is hard to access, always working in their office, and rarely interfacing with their team, they will miss opportunities to answer questions or identify obstacles. Working alongside your team makes you a better leader.

Being involved and present provides more opportunities to gauge your employee’s skills, strengths, and areas of potential improvement. This exposure motivates your employees and gives you more information to lead effectively.

Demonstrate Integrity and Ethical Leadership

If you play fast and loose with the rules or ask your team to cut corners, you are modeling behavior that can be turned against your leadership and the company. When you demonstrate integrity, your team will understand the same is expected from them.

Ethical leadership includes integrity, honesty, transparency, respect, and fairness. Here are a few ways to showcase ethical leadership:

  • Call out any unprofessional behavior.
  • Do the right thing even when you think no one is watching.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Demonstrate reliability and dependability.
  • Aim towards fairness, considering each team member equally.
  • Follow the rules.

Trust and Empower Your Team

There are two vital steps to trusting and empowering your team. First, they must understand the company’s vision, values, and goals. Second, they should recognize each employee’s skills and abilities and give them the authority and space to contribute. When you respect your employees, they respect you in return.

Embrace Professional Development

No matter where someone is in their career, there is room to grow. Modeling ongoing professional development to your team establishes that growth and education are essential. It will give them more reasons to trust your leadership while inspiring them to pursue development opportunities.

RELATED: How to Create a Successful Leadership Development Program

Develop Active Listening Skills

People appreciate feeling heard. Listening to what your team says and acknowledging it in a way that helps them feel understood can help build trust and rapport. Even if you do not choose to move forward with a suggestion, allowing your employees to feel heard builds respect and a sense of belonging. Plus, you never know when someone might have an outstanding idea you might have missed without solid listening skills.

Show Resilience

Failure happens. Things do not always work out to plan. When reality doesn’t meet expectations, demonstrating resilience in the face of failure is a powerful way to showcase your skills as a leader.

In a leadership position, your words and actions have influence. Flexibility, transparency, honesty, and learning from mistakes are critical for demonstrating resilience. During stress or challenge, be especially aware that your team is taking cues from what you say and do. A leader who remains supportive and encouraging even when things look bleak helps their team remain resourceful and agile when needed.

Take Care of Yourself

To show up and do your best requires taking care of yourself. If you drive yourself past exhaustion, you cannot perform up to your potential.

Taking care of yourself is a habit. It is not something you can do once every few months. It has to be a practice of getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating well enough, and taking time off when you really need it.  You want your team to be able to perform, not just in the short term but for the long haul. Practicing self-care models the habits required to continue to show up and excel day after day.

Leading by Example is a Win-Win

For most people, being a skilled and inspiring manager takes effort, time, training, and growth. Wherever you are as a leader right now, it will benefit you, your team, and your results to develop your skills, then lead by example to demonstrate those skills to your team.


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