Modeling the Way

Alex Pollock
April 21, 2020
Leading By Example
In times of personal testing, what's in us comes out. Like an orange when squeezed, the "juice" in us will spill to the surface for all observers to see. In our darkest hours, we find words and plans are not enough. In uncertain times and times of anguish, we have seen effective leaders stand firm for their beliefs and practice what they have been preaching. As Leaders, we know that while our position gives us authority, it is our behavior that earns us respect. We are reminded that Followers expect Leaders to "model the way."

As the global media focuses all too regularly on the poor judgment demonstrated by public figures when their personal actions fall way short of their public pronouncements, we can find ourselves aghast and reeling in disbelief. Let's pause, however, for a time of humble reflection. Perfection has alluded us all. While we will likely never find ourselves on CNN defending our actions, these examples can serve as a wake-up call to all of us to leave no space between what we say and what we do.

Let's briefly reflect upon what "modeling the way" may look like for each of us in our leadership roles (from "The Leadership Challenge," JM Kouzes, BZ Posner, 2017):
  • Identifying the values we use to guide choices and decisions
  • Finding ways to share with others what's important to us
  • Encouraging others to share what they do and what they care about
  • Providing opportunities for people to talk about their values with their colleagues
  • Building consensus around values, principles and standards
  • Ensuring that ALL people are adhering to agreed upon values and standards
Being a better leader is about changing ourselves — not those around us.

About the Author

Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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