How to Lead By Example to Motivate Your Team

Motivation is difficult enough to build within, but what if your success relies on instilling inspiration in others? 

Unfortunately, one unmotivated team member can spark a wave of negativity, which may feel all but impossible to overcome. In such situations, success lies not so much in your ability to shout the right slogans or provide the right rewards but rather in how you live out your personal values.

Team members who observe you leading by example are more likely to follow suit. Conversely, they will lose all respect for you and your mission if you say one thing and do another.

It’s no secret that the most effective campaigns are led by example. Like anything, however, this is easier said than done. Still, with a little effort and a lot of support, you can lead your team to greatness. To help you get started, we’ve outlined what, exactly, it means to lead by example—and how you can build on this concept to motivate your team.

  • Determine What Kind of Example You Want to Set

Leading by example means little if you struggle to define what constitutes a “good” example. Leadership can take many forms—and what works for one leader or organization could prove disastrous elsewhere.

Consider both your natural talents and your team’s specific objectives as you determine which leadership qualities you want to convey. From there, find creative ways to integrate your take on leadership into everyday tasks and interactions.

  • Seek Inspiration From Other Leaders

Still struggling to decide which leadership qualities are worth taking on? Consider the examples set by the leaders who have held the most influence in your personal and professional pursuits.

Who sparked and nurtured your passion? Who helped you maintain that motivation? Most importantly, how can you follow this person’s example to become a more effective leader?

This isn’t a matter of becoming an exact copy of your favorite leader, but rather, determining how you can integrate the most effective elements of their leadership practices into your current efforts.

Don’t settle for simply observing and emulating top leaders. Seek active mentorship, in which an effective leader can provide insight based on relevant experience. Your mentor’s outside perspective can help you determine which leadership practices are most effective—and which could be tweaked to produce better results. 

Beyond this, your efforts will also underscore the value of mentorship in general, perhaps convincing your team members that they, too, can benefit from seeking personal advice from industry leaders.

  • Get Invested

Going through the motions won’t cut it. You can check off every box on your to-do list, but your diligence matters little if you don’t actually believe in your cause. If you don’t care, why should your team members bother to make an effort?

If you’re struggling to find personal motivation to pass on to others, set aside some time to reflect. Determine why your team’s goals matter—and how both you and your cohorts will benefit from achieving ambitious objectives.

The more you can build and nurture inner passion, the better. That initial spark could prove infectious.

Getting invested doesn’t just mean demonstrating passion, however. Rather than purely delegating, you should be willing to jump in and take care of key tasks alongside team members. Those who observe you doing the “dirty work” will be far more inclined to join in.

Remember: When You Lead By Example, Leadership Never Ends

As a team leader, you should be conscious of every interaction. Ideally, a leadership mentality will consume all aspects of your work. Every conversation and email matters.

Don’t think of this as a performance but rather as a key attribute you’ve previously developed. If you already think of yourself as a capable leader, you are more likely to consistently make the small choices that ultimately convey successful leadership on a broad scale.

That doesn’t mean that you should stop learning and growing. Rather, you should see in yourself the same potential for greatness that you see in your team members.

Leadership is a journey, defined by both stumbles and successes. Embrace this opportunity to make a difference—and never forget that even the smallest actions matter.

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