Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Anyone ever hear those words when they were a kid? Thankfully, my parents weren’t like that but I did hear “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” Yeah, we used to get spankings back then. I never did understand that though. I mean, you’ve already thrashed me with a belt or a fly flap (fly swatter to you non-southern folks) and I’m crying my cute little eyes out, and now you’re gonna spank me again to make me stop? I wondered if all parents were crazy like mine. Now that I’m an adult, I know that it’s really the kids that are crazy. Us parents have it going on! Well…sorta.

Being a parent really has taught me a lot. The main thing it’s taught me is that being in a position of authority doesn’t always make you right. That also holds true in business. Being the leader of a team can be really similar to being a parent sometimes. We’ve all had employees that acted like children and thus have to be treated like them. But we’ve also had employees that actually acted like the adults they are.

When you’re leading a team, whether it be your family or your co-workers, you have to lead by example. Sitting back & dictating what you want done, when you want it done, and how you want it done will quickly erode your authority and any respect that they may have had for you. If you set rules for your team to live by, you have to be willing to follow those rules as well. If you specify that a business casual dress code be followed, you don’t need to wear t-shirts, flip-flops and shorts to the office. Same thing at home, if you don’t want your daughter wearing a super short mini skirt, shouldn’t her mom think that’s a bad idea too? What about office hours? If you want your team to follow a strict set of hours, shouldn’t you follow them as well?

I know that some people who are in an ownership role and not an employee manager role, will say “I sign the checks, I can do what I want but you’ll do what I say.” Know this, when you say that, you just eroded any respect that any of your team members had for you. Everything good that you may have done that made you a great team leader is now gone. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get a few perks because you’re the owner, but when you announce to your team that you’re better than them, you’re pushing them away and telling them that you don’t value them, or the work they do for you.

Stop and think about it. Turn the tables. What would you say or do if you were a team member and your team leader said that? It’s easy to let a little power and authority go to your head. The key to being an effective leader of a prosperous team is actually being part of that team. When you start seeing yourself as part of a team and treating everyone as part of that team, you’ll see a change in the team as a whole.

A great team can only be as good as the leader it follows. If you’re not willing to stand up and be that leader, you’ll never see the success you long for. Dedicate yourself to your team and your team will dedicate themselves to you.