A good example beats a big stick
If you want to lead people, you could always carry a big stick. Every time someone steps out of line, you could just smack that person in the head with your big stick. You could threaten anyone who dares do something different than you. You wouldn’t ever have to be fair or clear, because you’ve got a big stick - people would jump to do your bidding because they wouldn’t want to get hit by your stick. Of course, everyone would also hate you and be plotting to steal your stick from you. You’d also have to hope you never came across anyone with a bigger stick. (There’s always someone with a bigger stick - even CEOs of powerful companies have to answer to somebody.)
Another way to lead people is to set a good example. When you see someone setting an example, you know what behavior is expected of you. The whole team will understand, “This is what we need to do to be successful.” Not only are you communicating to your team what you want them to do, you’re showing them what to do in a way that is clear and memorable. You’re also communicating that you’re willing to stand with them and contribute in the same way to the team’s success. Good examples are non-threatening, so people will actually like you for how you exert your influence.
A big stick will get people to do anything, but will only be effective if the threat to use it is carried out. You can beat your team with a stick as much as you want, but eventually you’ll beat them down so hard, they won’t be able to accomplish anything.
If you use a good example to lead your team, you energize them to accomplish the mission. You’ll never worry about your team members stealing your good example from you because you’ll want your team to steal your good example from you. As a follower, I prefer a good example to a big stick, and as a leader, I prefer a good example to a big stick.
A good example sticks with you for a long time.
Assumptions are unopened windows that foolish birds fly into, and their broken bodies are evidence gathered too late.
Bryan Davis (via wellsaidblog)