In trying to locate the “rogue” articles I’ve written or been featured in during the internet times, I stumbled upon the only LinkedIn article I’ve written to date….from 2018. It still rings true and has been an ever-present thought as I navigate my professional career; the belief that leadership is more than a title, that leaders should lead by example.
To be frank, I’ve learned a lot about leadership by experiencing less-than-ideal leadership. Haven’t we all? Leadership isn’t something you can learn by reading thought-leader articles or those NYT best-selling altruistic books – although they can certainly benefit your approach – because it’s more than a title or skillset to absorb in your professional development. It’s also action, empathy, interest in the world around you. To put it simply, in the words of Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not a rank to be achieved, leadership is a responsibility and it’s a responsibility to see those around you rise.” You can find a lot of good takes on Simon’s Twitter but it’s time for one of my (long) takes-
Full article copy is below, sans any corrections/changes from the original article. You can find (and share, or like….) the article version on LinkedIn –
More Than Just A Cliche Phrase
Author: Cailey Aubrey
Original Post Date: September 5, 2018
Foreword: I know I am late to the “live and die by podcasts” party; I’ve tried in the past but success lies in making it work. Someone who has a short attention span will find it hard to listen to an hour of chatter coming through a smart phone, but I’m sure there’s a podcast out there about making #PodcastLife a purposeful habit that requires mindful, sometimes forced, implementation (think: phone reminders, putting a mysterious “listen, don’t watch” sticky note on your TV)….I may or may not have listened to it. Either way, I found the light in podcasts and now I want to talk about it.
I frequent the Apple Podcast “browse” section but have also found substance in individual apps like Curiosity and of course, Tedx Talks. I often learn something new, like the top places you frequent can shape your life, or expand on what my knowledge of what fast fashion does to the planet. Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts to find inspiration, feel empowered and push myself to understand new perspectives and topics – see Great Women of Business, She Means Business with Carrie Green, and Women at Work to name just a few (and no, it’s not just “female run” podcasts but females do run the world so…). One of my biggest leadership takeaways is actually extremely, embarrassingly simple: Lead by Example.
There are various idioms for this idea – practice what you preach, walk it like you talk it – but the basis is the same: Good leaders (innate or learned), embody the principles, values and mission that they teach – in fact, it’s less “teaching” and more “showing” – that inspires others to follow suit. Do you want to create a culture of learning? Read books, take free online courses and attend seminars. Do you want to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or increase volunteer-ism? Volunteer on the weekends, organize an outing that benefits the community (be it for a local organization or simply 2 hours on a Saturday cleaning up trash at the park/beach/downtown) or provide the opportunities to become involved. Practice what you preach.
Though, it’s more than just embodying the principles – it’s also about showing “why” they matter. Why do you need a culture of learning? Learning doesn’t halt after academics, it may change the way it looks but the quest for knowledge should always be active. Some of the most renowned business people read daily to fulfill the notion that knowledge is power. Why is CSR important? CSR increases employee loyalty and appreciation for their company while also seeking out opportunities to better the community. For example, MGM Resorts International actively fosters the desire to help the communities they operate in with the CSR practices they put in place.
There are so many takeaways to implement when podcasts start rolling and various “textbook” guidelines that demonstrate the leadership role, but the reality is that a simple phrase we all know is the foundation of a good leader. Leading by example is simply doing “what” you want from your team, “how” you inspire others to do the same, and “why” it makes a difference to everyone involved. Not everyone is designated a “leader” but we can all aspire to lead, or live, by example. You know when your mom scolded you for acting out because you needed to “set a good example for your little sibling,” helping to mold your character and infringe upon the likelihood of either party acting out? Yes, that’s still a good principle for success. Moms are usually right. We can admit it now that we’re adults.
Whatever idiom you want to use: Lead by example.
What are the simple phrases or well-known idioms that guide your leadership style? Do you have a “favorite cliche” that you find yourself defending? Also…podcast recommendations please!
Thoughts or comments? Let me know!
Stay tuned for more – currently written – articles about leadership and organizational culture.