I have a saying when it comes to leadership: Leaders lead, managers manage, supervisors supervise and everyone trains and mentors.

A successful landscape organization must be a continual teaching and learning environment. Regardless of the structure of the organization, the leader at the top ultimately defines all facets of the organization.

There is little doubt that we influence others through our actions, especially when we are in a leadership role. The challenge is that it isn’t just great leaders who are leading by example; we all are. Since people are watching and are being influenced by our behavior, it brings up an important question: What is the example we want to set for our team?

The key attributes owners say they want in team members includes:

  • Engaged and empowered
  • Flexible and open to change
  • Focused, good attitude
  • Good work ethic
  • Reliable and trustworthy

What do these things really mean as we work each day? If you can’t answer that question clearly, you can’t lead by example because you don’t know what the example is supposed to be. In other words, to lead by example in relationship to the list above, we need to know what we really mean and determine what behaviors create those outcomes.

For instance, if you want engagement and empowerment, consider the following behaviors:

  • Act like an owner and make decisions based on what is best for the business. Be proactive, asking what you can do to help or improve a situation.
  • Be accountable, recognizing that there is always part of the project or result that you can impact in a positive way.
  • Try things to achieve the desired goal. And if you make a mistake, own it and learn from it.

While this is just a partial list, it is also my list and how I translate those principles into action.

Hopefully, this example does three things for you:

  • Helps you clarify what you are looking for from your team.
  • Helps you to look in the mirror to see if you are delivering those things personally and professionally.
  • Gives you a process for translating what you want into the behaviors that produce those results.

Remember, while your words matter, what you do matters far more. If you want your influence to be positive and productive, you must be clear on what you want from others, and then make sure your actions, as well as your words, support that. When you do this, you are leading by example in an intentional and productive way.

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