If you're a leader, your employees are watching every move you make. It's not because they don't trust you, and it's not because they want to keep track of your every move. The reason your people watch you closely is that they want to know if what you say and what you do are the same--that is, that you walk the talk.
If you want to gain the trust and confidence of your employees (and, believe me, that's something you definitely want to do), you must set an example for them. But it's not enough to set that example--your actions must be consistent with it. Here are 11 ways to lead by example--and to prove to the members of your team that their trust in you is well placed.
1. Be sensitive to people's feelings, and be kind to them
Everyone has a rough day, or a day when everything seems to go wrong. Be sensitive to those times for your employees, and support them instead of tearing them down.
2. Take time to make people feel special
We all want to feel special. Take time to sincerely praise your employees for things that they do to advance your company or serve your customers.
3. Listen to people's emotions as well as words
Remember that 60 to 90 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Learn to read your employees' body language as well as their emotions.
4. View people's needs and wants as valid
Instead of jumping to the conclusion that your people can survive quite well without the things that they tell you they need and want, take the position that they are valid, and then do everything in your power to respond.
5. Choose your battles wisely
Don't waste your time and energy engaging in fights that either have no consequence, or that will leave you drained.
6. Respect people's differences
Each one of us is unique. Take your employees' differences into account when you make decisions that affect them.
7. Avoid being defensive--and placing people on the defensive
Don't take honest feedback personally--learn from it and use it to improve. When you provide feedback to your employees, make sure that it is candid, fair, and honest, and helps your people find ways to use it to improve.
8. Give people the benefit of the doubt
No one goes to work each day wanting to do a terrible job. Assume that each one of your employees is a good and honest person who wants to do the best job possible.
9. Resolve interpersonal problems as quickly as possible
Don't let disagreements or hurt feelings fester. Get these issues out into the open and work to resolve them quickly.
10. Treat people the way you would like to be treated
You know how you would like to be treated by others. Now do the same for your employees.
11. Never take people for granted--never
Don't forget that people are your most important asset. Give them the attention and consideration that they deserve.