Nothing builds and sustains credibility like a boss who leads by example. Whether you take the time to chat with new employees in the kitchen, help out with a massive mailing, or are the first to ask the hard questions, you alone are responsible for setting company standards and expectations.
Actions still speak louder than words, particularly when your philosophies and behavior motivate people to do their best work. Doing otherwise only confuses staff and slows momentum.
Here are 10 useful strategies for modeling behavior that will inspire your employees to work hard, maintain loyalty, and help your company grow:
- Lead with honesty. Promote an office environment of truthfulness. Anything less than honest communication should not be tolerated. Emphasize, for example, that accurate representation (of projects, work style, etc.) affects everyone. Just think of the disgraced companies recently in the news that learned the hard way. Try to incorporate the importance of telling the truth in your company slogan.
- Create a strong and fluid circle of advisors. The most successful leaders surround themselves with capable, trustworthy stewards who can recommend solid strategies and proven processes that lead to workable solutions. Don’t be afraid to listen, especially when it’s the kind of news you don’t like or weren’t expecting to hear. When your employees see that you listen, they will listen, too. Also, choose a diverse group representing different perspectives. That encourages your employees to act accordingly.
- Always take responsibility. The best way for a leader to lose credibility is to play the blame game. If you blow it, admit it. If you forgot, admit that, too. In other words, step up to the managerial plate every time. This encourages everyone to accept responsibility and accountability.
- Don’t be afraid to praise. Being the boss doesn’t mean that you should withhold positive feedback. Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then, not just your star performers. The more you give out gold stars, the more you’ll notice motivated employees who continue do good work and recognize each other’s value.
- Create an inspirational culture. If you want people to be inspired, motivated, and charged up, adopt an inspirational attitude. Infuse your language (including written communication) with passion and purpose. Let people know that you’re excited about what the company is doing, whether it’s a new product launch, sponsorship of a major trade show, or recognition in a magazine.
- Articulate the mission. Once you give employees the language of success, they can communicate the company’s mission. Help them understand their roles in the company’s success. Be direct so that they are confident you have a clear vision for the company’s goals and objectives.
- Be inclusive. Show your team how to resolve issues in a collaborative manner. Model active listening and provide constructive feedback. Find ways to help people feel closely connected to the actions and processes being used to accomplish company goals, so they’ll collaborate with each other.
- Share the rewards. If the company is doing well, initiate a bonus plan; this will give employees a stake in the company’s continued success. Sharing the rewards also reinforces your appreciation for people’s hard work, commitment, and company loyalty. It induces employees to rely on each other to make things happen.
- Roll up your sleeves. Show that when a job needs to be done, everyone at every level needs to chip in and participate. Do your part, and make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.
- Demonstrate integrity. Inspiring your employees is important, but they must believe in you as well. They’ll look up to you if you fulfill your commitments, even if it’s something as basic as showing up for a scheduled meeting.