College of Business

Lead by example

By Peyton Thompson | February 29, 2024

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things?” Leaders are set apart because they lead by example. Leading by example sets the tone for those around you. When you set the right example, it encourages the people around you to follow.

As a college volleyball player, one thing I have always strived to do is lead by example. I can influence my team’s culture by the example that I set. I strive to always give my best, communicate well, encourage my teammates, and perform at high levels in hopes that my teammates will follow my example. This same mindset can be applied to leaders in the workforce.

Set a Good Example

Model the behavior you want to see from your employees. Setting a good example starts by treating others with respect, whether that be your employees or your customers. People are not likely to follow those that they do not respect.

Set the example for how work should be done. Be efficient. Work hard. Perform well. When people see these things, it inspires them to do the same. They may not believe that they are capable of doing something, but if they see you doing it, it gives them the encouragement that they can too.

Practice What You Preach

Make sure your actions align with your words. Do not tell your employees to do something you are not willing to do yourself. No one likes a “do as I say, not as I do” type of boss.

When leaders are hypocritical, it causes their employees to lose respect for them. It also destroys team culture while decreasing morale. This type of leadership is toxic in the workplace.

Leading by Example is not Always Easy

As leaders you will have good and bad days. There will be days when it feels like nothing can go right. Sometimes you may not perform the way you hoped. External factors can also creep in affecting your mood, mindset, and your work life. When these days come it is vital that you still set the example you want others to follow.

In a leadership position, people are always watching to see how you respond to difficult situations. When the hard times come, are you going to let outside factors affect the way you work, treat others, or communicate?

The best leaders are consistent. They continue to lead by example, even when things get tough.

So Why Is It Important?

Leading by example creates respect between leaders and their employees. With respect, comes trust. When employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to follow their leaders.

Positive examples from leadership can also increase productivity. When leaders set the example by working hard, it encourages employees to work hard as well. When both the leader and employees work hard, teams will be able to achieve their goals more efficiently.

Finally, when leaders lead by example it creates a positive work environment. Good culture in the workplace can ultimately lead to job satisfaction, increased efficiency, high morale, and success.


Peyton Thompson is a fifth year senior and captain of the volleyball team at Charleston Southern University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in organizational leadership.


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