Small Business Leadership: Be a Role Model

This is part 4 in a series of small business leadership insight and advice, focused on being a leader for your employees and cultivating a work environment where rules and values are important for everyone.

Check out our previous post, part 3 on coaching for better performance.

Being a Successful Business Role Model

follow the leader in business sign written in chalk on a blackboard with an arrow

We all know the type — business owners or leaders who set the rules and then do not follow them. These people believe that their position makes them exempt or feel the rules they set do not apply to them. This is a big mistake.

If you are a small business owner or leader, following rules, policies, and procedures is more important for you than for anyone else. You are the one who sets the tone for compliance. You are the model everyone else follows. If you do not set a good example then you cannot or should not expect any other member of your staff to respect your protocols. Employees won’t seriously invest in living up to your organization’s mission, vision or values. Performance and culture begin at the top!

As a leader in your business, being a good role model means saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. It also means acting honestly and with integrity, as well as embodying the business vision and following through with the business mission while acting with integrity at all times.

It means following the rules — the same ones you set.

Lead By Example for Your Team

If you have an 8:00 a.m. start time, be there. If you have a policy of no swearing, keep your language clean. If you have a dress code, comply with it. If you have all staff under expense control, do not splurge on a big dinner.

Being a good role model also means following through on promises and expectations. If you emphasize a culture of balanced work and life, do not intrude on your employee’s days off and vacations — including any type of communication. Emails and voice mails delivered at all hours send a message that you do not respect other’s need to relax and have leisure time. This is often interpreted as an expectation that staff members should be available 24/7 or that you do not have clear work boundaries for yourself. If you must share work assignments or information during non-work hours, then be clear that you do not expect a response until work begins again. Try holding communications in draft form and sending them during your staff’s regular business hours. Encourage people to have good boundaries and give them permission to have a life outside of work without interruption by doing so yourself.

Examine Your Leadership Techniques

Stop for a moment now and critically assess how you behave. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I a good role model?
  • If everyone acted just as I do will my business be represented as I want it to be?
  • Do I ask my staff to behave one way while I behave another?
  • Do I represent my business well in my industry and with my peers?
  • How does my behavior impact others around me?
  • Does my staff know what I expect of them?

Set a good example. Be a good role model. The side effects will contribute to everyone’s success.

Don’t miss the earlier parts of this small business leadership advice series! Learn more about the importance of delegating, motivating employees, and coaching for high performance.

Sherry Jordan is an expert in small business performance and leadership. She can assist you in identifying your goals and roadblocks and help you set strategies to success. For more information, call 503-954-4118.

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