In the pursuit of excellence, communication is required. And, that goes for everyone. No one is exempt from that requirement. It’s easy to make the claim that we are leaders by example, which in our minds, somehow relieves us of the responsibility. It doesn’t.
As a matter of fact, if we’re operating within a team setting, it makes us selfish. That’s right, selfish. By refusing to use our voice, we are clearly communicating to our teammates that our personal comfort is of greater importance than anything we might be able to do together as a team.
Leaders that only lead by example are just bad leaders. It’s the bare minimum of leadership qualifications. It’s like a mechanic that is only good with a hammer. Great, as long as a hammer is all that is needed, which, of course, is never the case. Just as leading by example is never the only thing needed.
Why Should We Care?
We should care because we need to raise the standard for what we consider a leader. Consistently doing what you are expected to do does not make you a leader. Going beyond what is expected of you doesn’t even make you a leader. It makes you ambitious. It makes hard working. It makes you proactive. But, it doesn’t make you a leader.
A leader inspires a group to collectively embrace a challenge and take action. Merely, doing does not do this for one simple reason: relationships. Inspiration of any kind is truly only realized through the development of relationships. Sure, we may be motivated in the short-term by watching someone do something heroic or honorable. That’s not inspiration.
Inspiration persists. It hangs on through the lean times and explodes in the good times. We don’t inspire without relationships and we don’t have relationships without using our voice. The ability, or should I say willingness, to use our voice is critical to our impact as a leader.
Using our voice is more than yelling at people or holding them accountable, though that is part of it. Aside from casting the vision of the team, nothing is more important in a leaders domain of control than his willingness to uphold the standards of the team. Our actions are not enough to do this. We must use our voice.
The casting of the vision needs more attention. As a leader, our most critical duty is to cast a vision of where our team is going. That vision must be worth the sacrifice we are asking our followers to make. It has to be important, make a difference. And, we need to be casting it all the time, every day, in everything we do. What we do matters. And, what we say, or don’t say, matters just as much.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
It’s easy to say we have to communicate as leaders, but what are we communicating? Talking just to talk doesn’t help anything. Here’s a few ideas on impactful areas to use your voice to enhance your leadership.
Leading by example is not a type of leadership, it’s a tool of a leader - part of what makes a leader. No leadership exists without our voice to cast the vision, hold the standard, and connect to our people.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.