Leading by example

I believe leadership from the front is the right approach.

For instance, the Israeli Army has, since its inception, adopted the theory of Ahrayot. Loosely translated, this refers to the fact that Israeli commanders lead from the front, set an example, push themselves at least as hard as they push their troops, and demand the best from themselves first, and their fighters second.

Without wanting to enter into a political discussion, it’s fair to say that the first 30 years or so of the State of Israel shows the value of this approach – the Israeli Army achieved almost mythical success.

Moving away from sensitive political discussions and circling back to an example that’s for me much closer to home, I’m involved in a bunch of different voluntary organizations. Most of which are led by fine individuals that understand the concept of leading from the front. Unfortunately, one organization in which I’m involved is led by an individual who perfectly exemplifies how NOT to lead. Leaders may think that their subordinates don’t notice, but choosing the easiest jobs for yourself, treating particular members as favorites, and always planning things to most comfortably fit with your schedule are all examples of behaviors that lessen the respect subordinates will have for their leader.

Speaking with my wife the other night, she put it more succinctly than I can: “If you’re in a leadership position, you need to actually lead by example.”

How many of us have experienced a workplace situation where a so-called “leader” was never to be found. When things got tough and someone needed to step-up, he or she was invariably off having coffee somewhere, or muttering a host of excuses reasons as to why they couldn’t actually do what was needed at the time. I know I’ve experienced that often, and am guessing that most readers will have also.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to read stories like the one we covered recently about Luscious Garage. Carolyn Coquillette, the owner of Luscious Garage lives her business’ culture. Hell, she IS her business’ culture. How many people out there can say that?

Of course, this is a blog about customer service, and you’d be excused for scratching your head and wondering where the customer service connection in all of this is. But it’s simple and obvious really. If you want to drive exceptional and delightful experiences for your customers, you need to have great staff at the front end. But failing ensure that the manager dealing with those frontline staff is leading by example is a recipe set to end in tragedy.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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