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Maxims from Mike - Be the example you want to see in your organization.

Hello Leaders,

Welcome to Today. This week's Leadership and Personal Development tip embraces being an example.

Maxim: Role model the example you want to see in your organization.

As a non-commissioned officer in the US Army, I still remember, quite well, the instruction to set the example. If I were to lead a group of soldiers, I would have to role model the values, behaviors, and expectations the military had for us. After several decades, this remains true. April 4, 2018, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell said, "Noncommissioned officers have to keep growing, have to keep learning and have to keep setting the example for the American military to remain the best in the world." The - best - in - the - world!

This is sound advice for all organizations and a great reminder for leaders. Let's encourage ourselves to keep growing, keep learning, and keep setting the example so that our entities can be the best in its field - be it for-profit, not-for-profit, education, ministry, government, or otherwise. This advice applies across the various disciplines of commerce and charity.

Kouzes and Posner, in the Leadership Challenge, lists five practices of exemplary leadership. Unsurprisingly, the first practice they list is Model the Way. They understand the truth of credibility being the foundation of leadership. We stand on shaky ground if we lack integrity and a sound character. We stand on shaky ground if our followers cannot or do not trust us. We stand on shaky ground if our actions do not align with our statements.

How can leaders model the way? The authors would posit, "Clarify your values and set the example." Regarding clarifying your values, Tim Avila commented, "Having faith in my principles and beliefs gave me the courage to navigate difficult situations and make tough decisions." It has been said, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." The authors make the following points, "If you don't believe in the messenger, you won't believe the message. You can't believe in the messenger if you don't know what the messenger believes. You can't be the messenger until you're clear about what you believe."

Once you are clear about your values, faith, beliefs, etc., you will find your voice. But as a leader, it is important to establish agreement on a set of shared values among everyone you lead. Done correctly, the organization will have, for the most part, one voice. The leader must role model the values to help establish this one voice. A key pillar of integrity is DWYSYWD - do what you say you will do... and be consistent. This behavior in the leader and the organization builds credibility in the marketplace.

Knowing your values and finding your voice allow you to be an example of what you expect from others. It's about practicing what you preach. We all send signals either intentionally or unintentionally. Kouzes and Posner stated, "Leaders recognize that they have to be mindful of and accountable for the choices they make, because they're setting the example of what's appropriate and inappropriate, what's exemplary and what's second-rate." In other words, organizations often take on the personality of its leader.

Charles Barkley, Hall of Fame retired NBA star, was wrong when he said, "I am not a role model." He later stated that he wanted the kids to look to the parents for proper role models. However, people examine the lives of visible people. Leaders are visible. Followers will examine both the positive and negative traits of their leaders. I suggest having an accountability partner. This person would help keep us honest and grounded by speaking up when our actions are in misalignment with our values.

We need sources of feedback. An excerpt from the Leadership Challenge reads, "Leaders realize that while they may not always like feedback, it is the only way they can really know how they are doing as someone's leader. Seeking feedback provides a powerful statement about the value of self-improvement and how everyone can be even better that they are today."

Lastly, teach others to model the values also. As a young salesperson many years ago, a computer company relocated their HQ from New York to Atlanta. This company became my customer. They had worked with our New York office for many years. After meeting with the CEO, his statement to me afterwards was, "You Intel guys say the same thing. My salesman in New York answered the same way." We were both consistent in our answers to the customer. You see, people are not watching only you, they are also watching everyone else in the organization. Everyone is sending signals. Is the team you are leading sending the same signals as you? Are you conscious of the signals you are sending? Are the signals consistent? Model the way! Be the example you want to see in your organization.

To learn more about modeling the way, please contact us. At Apogee, we work with entities to strengthen their pipeline of leaders. We specialize in strengthening the pipeline of diverse leaders. We welcome the opportunity to help you grow your team and/or you personally in the area of leadership.

That's it for now. Until the next tip....

Mike Nwankwo

Founder & CEO


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