Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A strong leader must be willing to get their hands dirty, admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their team’s outcomes. CEOs might want to consider these techniques to inspire their employees.
Leaders, are you ready to step up? Regardless of your leadership style, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and show your team how it’s done. If you don’t lead by example, what kind of example are you setting for your team? Real results will not come from a perfect effort but from 100% effort. So come on leaders, don’t second guess yourself — get out on the field and demonstrate what needs to be done.
Related: 9 Powerful Ways to Lead by Example
Leading from the front
Leading from the front means taking charge, setting the pace and taking the initiative. It’s like being the captain of a ship, except instead of leading a literal ship and crew to shore, you’re leading a team of people toward a common business goal. To lead from the front, you have to be a visionary, a trailblazer and fearless. Just remember your helmet.
Leadership should be demonstrated from the front, setting an example for those who follow. Regardless of a leader’s position, challenging tasks cannot be exempt from leadership decisions. Rather than barking orders, leaders should set an example. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is known for being deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of both companies, regularly meeting with engineers and technicians to solve problems and push forward with innovative ideas.
Musk is often seen on the factory floor, personally overseeing the production process and working alongside his team. He also takes risks and leads by example, like when he personally launched his Tesla Roadster into space as part of a test flight for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. Musk’s hands-on leadership style and willingness to take bold risks have helped him build successful companies that are pushing the boundaries of space exploration and sustainable energy.
It is vital to take personal initiative and work alongside each team member instead of hovering over them. This level of steadfastness boosts the morale of your team members, demonstrates perseverance in meeting mandates and provides benchmarking during deadlines.
Related: How to Create a Thriving Workplace by Leading With Authenticity
What walking the walk looks like
So, what does “walking the walk” look like? Depending on their position within the company, it looks different for everyone. Let’s say you’re the CEO of a company. To provide valuable insights and opinions, you need to be proficient in the product you’re selling and stay current on industry trends and news.
If you were managing a customer service team, what would you do? Participating in difficult conversations can help your team understand what’s expected of them. As a leader, it is imperative that you set an excellent example for your team members and achieve results.
Leaders must lead by example and practice what they preach. Talking about honesty, integrity and accountability is easy, but it’s much harder to embody them daily. Regarding work-life balance, taking time off and setting boundaries are essential. You must cultivate a culture of listening to your team to foster a culture of open communication.
You have to do the work together to truly be a team player; you can’t leave the heavy lifting to your team. Leaders must be willing to get their hands dirty and show their teams they are on their side.
Leadership is ultimately about embodying the values and mission of your organization. Every aspect of your work should be accountable, honest and transparent. In other words, if you say you’re committed to positively impacting the world, you’d better be ready to take action and make it happen.
Related: 12 Things You Can Do Starting Today to Be a Better Leader
Holding yourself accountable
A strong leader must be willing to admit when he or she is wrong and acknowledge when changes need to be made. In addition, leaders must be willing to accept responsibility for their mistakes. Leaders who take responsibility for a team’s outcome, even if it isn’t ideal, demonstrate integrity and foster trust.
Leaders who set a good example motivate their teams and inspire positive change. Being a business leader requires taking responsibility for your actions and being proactive.
As leaders, it’s important to hold ourselves accountable to our teams. This means setting up systems to ensure that we are meeting our commitments and following through on our promises. One such system is regular check-ins with team members. By scheduling regular one-on-one meetings, leaders can touch base with their team members and get feedback on how they’re doing. This provides an opportunity for leaders to receive constructive criticism and make any necessary adjustments to their leadership style.
Another system that leaders can put in place is a performance review process. This process can include setting clear goals and expectations for team members, as well as regular feedback sessions to ensure that everyone is on track. By holding themselves accountable to these same standards, leaders can create a culture of accountability and trust within their teams. It’s important for leaders to model the behavior they expect from their team members — and by putting these systems in place, they can lead by example and create a positive and productive work environment.
Ultimately, leadership is more than knowing everything; it’s about inspiring others through example and action. A leader who walks the walk understands that success depends on walking the talk, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be. It’s time for business owners and executives everywhere to put on their boots (or sneakers) and hit the field!