It may be an old adage, but leading by example is unfortunately a concept that escapes some of today’s frontline leaders. Although we hate to admit it, there are still some leaders who may openly state their opposition to any form of double standard, but act in a way that is not consistent with this position. They have forgotten that it is what they do, and not what they say, that matters most.
As frontline leaders, we need to understand that most communication and interaction between our team members and “the company” comes through us… so we are “the company” where they are concerned. This means that what we say, and even more critical, what we do, has a huge impact on what the team members think, and how they behave each day at work. Take absenteeism for example. This is an area that is a reasonably significant concern for many companies. Our job as frontline leaders is to manage this process, to ensure that we demonstrate empathy and support to employees who are absent from time to time, while also dealing with the few who abuse absence from work. We also need to recognize that the abusers are a very, very small percentage of the workforce, and we need to be careful not to put policies and procedures in place that punish all for the abuse of the few.
So you’re a frontline leader, and have a great team working with you. They need some direction from time to time, but are dedicated and knowledgeable, and are doing a great job at delivering on the promise to the customer . Lately however , you have noticed that Frank has been missing more time than usual, and the situation is becoming an increasing concern. You have spoken to him informally to see how he is, and he has assured you that there’s nothing wrong. Despite this, the situation has continued to deteriorate, and you are now at a point where a more formal counselling session is required.
If you are a leader who also misses a fair amount of time, how do you think this will impact the effectiveness of the discussion you are about to have with Frank? Will Frank really be listening to what you have to say, and will he truly understand the importance of the discussion? What about discussions with employees over adherence to personal protective equipment policies, when you yourself are seen from time to time in violation of the policy?
Take a minute to reflect on your personal performance in the workplace, and how it may be impacting your effectiveness as a frontline leader. Are you practicing what you preach? If not, it is likely that your effectiveness is being diminished, which is negatively impacting your team’s overall performance, and that of the organization as a whole.