Is Leading By Example Enough?

In every leadership class I teach, and in every coaching workshop I facilitate, there is always a group of people who believe that the best leadership technique is to “lead by example.”

After a review of the process, eventually, we come to the conclusion that leading by example is good, but really just not good enough.

The problem with leading by example, is that it only works if employees are looking for an example. Most of the time employees are too engaged in their daily work to be bothered looking for examples.

A step up from leading by example, is leading by “being a beacon.”  Being a beacon means to be a light that shines, and people will see it even if they are not looking for it. Certainly, if you want people to show up to work on time, you have to show up to work on time. But if you want people to appreciate the job they have and to stop complaining, it won’t help for you to just stop complaining yourself. You need to be a beacon, and get involved.

Be a Beacon.

More than just leading by example, which is to outwardly display the traits we want employees to emulate, we must become beacons, by extending ourselves and openly discuss those traits with the staff; reinforcing those traits in conversations at all times.  Some examples include:

Positive attitude toward the company.  This does not mean we say something we do not believe, but just to focus on some of the positives.  Complaining about things ourselves gives the staff permission to be annoyed and unhappy with the situation.

Reframe statements to make them positive.  To openly restate negative comments made by the staff.   Examples:

Comment: I have too much work.
Response: At least we have job security.
Comment: I get all the difficult files.
Response: Your supervisor must trust you.
Comment: The only time I see my supervisor is when I make a mistake.
Response: Your supervisor leaves you alone to do your job.

Provide positive feedback when appropriate.  Most often when goals are met.

Encourage improvement.  Track results and look for improvement in both individual and team performance.  Openly encourage improvement through all lines of communication.

Train them.  Show them how to get the answer.

Talk about Goals.  Constantly talk about the importance of meeting goals, what the goals are, how goals transfer into improvement, etc.

I would love to hear your opinions on the beacon method and other methods of inspiring employees.


About carlvanclaimsexpert

Carl Van, President & CEO of International Insurance Institute, Inc., graduated from California State University, Sacramento where he received his bachelor’s degree in Insurance. He has been in the insurance claims industry since 1980 and has held the positions of Claims Adjuster, Claims Supervisor, Claims Manager, Division Claims Manager and Regional Manager over Claims, Loss Control and Premium Audit. Mr. Van has set up 5 in-house claims training programs for various insurance companies throughout the United States, and has written articles for Claims magazine, Claims Education Magazine, Claims Advisor, Claims People magazine, The Subrogator, The National Underwriter, California Insurance Journal and over 100 other national magazines. He is the author of over 75 technical and soft skill workshops being taught throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. He has been a keynote speaker at claims conferences around the country, a trainer at an international U.S-Japanese executive training program, a guest speaker at hundreds of claims association seminars, and selected as the opening presenter at some of the most prestigious claims conferences in the United States and Canada. Mr. Van is the Dean of the School of Claims Performance, and has served as both board member and Regional Vice President of the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators. He is owner and publisher of Claims Education Magazine, and board president of both the Claims Education Conference and the International Claims Executive Academy. Mr. Van is creator, presenter and producer of all claims training videos at Claims Education On Line, which include Time Management, Customer Service, Negotiations and Critical Thinking, all specific to claims professionals. He owner and publisher of Claims Professional Books On Line, and is the author of the highly acclaimed book The 8 Characteristics of the Awesome Adjuster, which has sold internationally throughout the United States, Canada, Newfoundland, Guam, Singapore, France, Australia, England, Chile, Ireland, and 15 other countries. Other books by Carl Van include Gaining Cooperation, The Claims Cookbook, and Attitude, Ability and the 80/20 Rule. Other credits include being an arbitrator, a licensed agent, a TASA certified expert witness for insurance Bad Faith suits, as well as a national auditor for a federal regulatory agency.

Posted on September 13, 2011, in General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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