One of the concepts Parker Worldwide www.parker-worldwide.co.uk use in their business development culture is “The Law of 80% – 20%: People Do 80% What People See and only 20% what people say.
” It deals with the importance of the examples leaders give to their people. You see, good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually. However, the vision doesn’t come alive until the leader models it themselves.Great leaders are aware that others do what they do. And they always keep in mind that:
Followers are Always Watching What Leaders Do.
If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are always watching what you do. And just as children watch their parents and emulate their behaviour, so do employees who are watching their bosses. If the bosses come in late, then employees feel like they can, too. If the boss cuts corners, employees cut corners. People do what people see, not what they hear.
Followers may doubt what their leaders say, but they usually believe what they do. And they imitate it. “You can issue all the memos and give all the motivational speeches you want, but if the rest of the people in your organization don’t see you putting forth your very best effort every single day, they won’t either.” To be a great leader or manager then you MUST be able to set an example for others to inspire to and follow!
It’s Easier to Teach What’s Right than to Do What’s Right! People will always take the path of least resistance.
“To show what is right is great, To tell others what is right is even much easier.” That’s one of the reasons why many parents, leaders and managers say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
One of my earliest challenges as a leader at Parker Worldwide was to raise my living to the level of my teaching. I can still remember the day I decided that I would not teach anything I did not try to live out myself. That was a tough decision, but as a young leader I was learning to embrace the Law of the 80% – 20%. “There is nothing more confusing than people who give good advice but set a bad example.”, “Nothing is more convincing than people who give good advice and set a good example.”
We Should Work on Changing Ourselves Before Trying to Improve Others.
Leaders and managers are responsible for the performance of their teams. The buck stops with them! Accordingly, they monitor their team’s progress, give them direction, and hold them accountable. And to improve the performance of the team, leaders must act as change agents. However, a great danger to good leadership is the temptation to try to change others without making changes to you first. As people will only ever do 80% of the example you set for them.
As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me. My standards of excellence should be higher for myself than those I set for others. To remain a credible leader, I must always work first, hardest, and longest on changing myself. This is neither easy nor natural, but it is essential for successful leadership and management.
The Most Valuable Gift a Leader Can Give is being a Great Example.
A survey conducted by our HR Department asked UK workers to select the one trait that was most important for a person to lead them. The 1st trait with 36% of votes, was leading by example. 2nd at 29%, was strong ethics or morals. More than anything else, employees want leaders whose beliefs and actions line up. People want to follow others who can set the example and have trodden the path that awaits them.
Leadership and management skill are more earned than taught. How does one earn leadership and management skills? By watching good leaders and managers in action and performing all the tasks to great standards before asking that of others.
So as you approach the end of the calendar year and start thinking about the performance of the team you lead, stop for a moment of honest reflection and ask yourself this question: What kind of example am I setting? If you’re setting a high standard for integrity, competence, work ethic, and professional growth, if you’re being all that you desire your people to be, then you’re setting up yourself, your team, and your organization for success. If not, you need to make some changes and fast. Parker Worldwide credit the success and rapid quality growth they have had in the UK to using our Business Development Plan to train all of our managers to such high standards and the work ethic each member of the team has contributed.