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"Leaders get the behaviors they tolerate." - Former EDS CEO Dick Brown

Have you ever found yourself completely fed up with your employees' behavior? Here's a quick reality check: They may be mimicking you. You are a role model, whether you like it or not. You are the barometer your employees will use to gauge just how they should behave at work. So, what behaviors are you passing on?

What Is "Behavior?"

When we talk about "behavior" we are not talking about specific interactions or episodes, but everything you say and do. As a CEO, you must be aware that from the moment you step out of your car in the morning to the moment you drive away at the end of the day, you are on stage.

As you navigate your day keep in mind:

  • Everyone around you is observing that behavior at all times: All eyes are on you whether you're giving a presentation, pouring coffee in the kitchen, or walking down the hall. Be aware of both your verbal and nonverbal cues.
  • People will reach conclusions about you based upon your behavior: If you have a tendency to fly off the handle, your team won't view you as "no-nonsense," they'll just think you're a jerk.
  • Behavior breeds behavior: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Everyone from your part time staff to your executive team will mimic your behaviors - both good and bad.
  • You can use your behavior to help your influence. At the same time, it can hinder your influence: Teams would walk through fire for approachable, even-tempered, engaged CEOs. On the other hand, they'd stand on the sidelines for bellowing, sour-faced, closed-off CEOs.
  • Your actions should always match your words: Never, ever adopt the mentality "Do as I say, not as I do." It just won't work.

As a leader, your behavior will influence your team. If you want to have a positive impact, you must set the standard.

So You Want To Be An Influencer? Look In the Mirror!

Effective leadership is all about influence. You can achieve results through an authoritarian approach, but leading by example is a far more impacting way to help your team reach its goals. When you tell someone they "must" do something, or when you demand that people behave a certain way, you may end up with a desired result, but at what cost?

Nobody likes working for a jerk. People do like working for bosses who coach them through difficult times. They are happy to give their all to a leader who shows them the steps they need to take to work their way out of a tough problem. They go the extra mile for someone who asks, rather than demands. Engaged teams are built on respect and trust, not demands and mandates.

Monitoring your behavior alone, however, is not enough. You have to be conscious of what you say. Sure you can walk the walk, but do you talk the talk? When there is consistency between what you say and what you do, colleagues and employees will mirror those behaviors.

Think about it this way: If you state that you expect every employee to be respectful at all times but you can be heard berating your assistant on a regular basis, what message does this send your team? If, instead, they observe that you keep a cool head regardless of the circumstances, you'll begin to notice fewer meltdowns on your team over time.

As a leader, it is essential to be aware that you are on stage. Set the standard and be the model that the rest of the company will subconsciously mirror.


Larry Hart

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