Leading by Example

Tips for becoming a great leader who inspires workers to be their best

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Great leaders must not only ensure that the company’s mission, core values, key strategies, and culture are aligned. They also need to make sure everyone—including themselves—is held to these standards. 

While it is vital to have written vision, value, mission, and culture statements, these statements mean nothing if company leaders don’t follow them.  If what you say as a leader does not match your actions, the misalignment can quickly:

  •  Lower staff morale and engagement
  • Reduce productivity 
  • Increase employee turnover 
  • Erode your company’s culture
  •  Hurt both your reputation and the business’ bottom line. 

Do as you say

At a time when the workplace is all about employee wellness—creating a safe, healthy environment where people want to work—these mixed messages can also cause stress and anxiety, leading to mental and physical health issues.

For example, perhaps you state in your written employee manual—and verbally insist—that all employees should take their allotted vacation time. Yet you and your top leaders don’t take vacations. The underlying message becomes, “You should take vacations, but top leaders don’t.” This can create anxiety for those workers who realize the importance of time off to avoid burnout but fear they may lose out on promotions, raises, bonuses, or other “hard worker” rewards. People follow leaders and assume that what they see leaders do are the desired behaviors. 

Tips for creating trust

Below are examples of actions you need to take if you want to earn the employee respect, engagement, trust, and loyalty that truly great leaders create.

  • Always treat, manage, and lead people in complete compliance with the company’s stated culture. 
  • Demonstrate the desired work ethic and focus. For example, if you want your team to be customer-focused, ensure all your actions demonstrate customer-centricity.
  • Be accountable; publicly accept responsibility for your actions.
  • Listen effectively and with an open mind. If you want employees to be engaged, it won’t happen if you do all the talking and they don’t feel heard.
  • Admit mistakes and show how they translate into a learning opportunity.
  • Stay home when you are sick to reassure employees it is the right thing to do and that they won’t be penalized.
  • Participate in company outings and team-building exercises to underline their importance.
  • Take vacations to encourage employees to do the same.
  • Do not promote people while others who have similar responsibilities are on vacation, sick, or otherwise out of the office to avoid sending the message that taking time off has negative repercussions.
  • Treat people with respect at all times, no matter what.
  • Do not tolerate or accept poor performance or inappropriate behavior. If you do, these behaviors will persist.
  • Share your passion. True leaders are passionate about their work. Employees pick up on this enthusiasm, and quickly notice when it is missing.  
  • Look for solutions. When there is a problem, it is easy to make accusations and blame others, but what matters isn’t in the past. Great leaders look for what can be done to resolve the issue and prevent it from occurring in the future.
  • Build new leaders. The best leaders realize the organization is only as good as the sum of its people, and one person can’t do it all. Training, educating, coaching, and mentoring others to turn them into leaders is the epitome of outstanding leadership—and an excellent reflection of your capabilities.

Mike Sawchuk

Mike Sawchuk of Sawchuk Consulting assists BSCs, in-house facility service providers, manufacturers, and distributors in the professional cleaning industry improve their outcomes with insightful, pragmatic solutions. He can be reached at 905-932-6501, via LinkedIn at, or at

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