Leading by example means you do first, and then preach. You lead the way. You set the examples. My personal experience suggests that team observes their manager/leader very closely and takes subtle hints from their behavior.
In the previous company I worked with, I had a manager who would walk around in the office after the normal working hours are over. He would personally meet and greet people who were working overtime. He would try to find out the reason for overtime work. In some cases, wherever possible, he would suggest alternative ways of completing the task more efficiently.
He showed me what being good at the workplace looks like. To an extent, he shaped my behavior towards my team members when I started leading people.
In this context, there is a great post at Slacker Manager blog by Phil Gerbyshak titled “You are an example: Management by Quotation” where Phil says that you should not expect the team to do anything you won’t do yourself. He concludes the post with three simple questions for managers:
- What example are you setting for your team today, and every day?
- What ways can you be a better example for your team?
- Whose example did you follow to become who you are today?
Thought provoking questions that are so important for people who lead people.