Momentum Podcast: 536
Don't Ever Lead by Example
by Alex Charfen
Recently, I was at an amazing event in Canada put on by my friend Giovanni at Archangel, some of the best events out there, just some of the most incredible people. And at the event, we were in a period where there was some masterminding going on at tables and Gio asks from across the room, “Hey Alex, what do you think about when entrepreneurs try to lead by example?” Well, I gave what most people in the room probably thought was an aggressive response but I think it was appropriate, and I'll share it with you in just a second.
Recently I was at an amazing event, ArchAngel, in Canada put on by my friend Giovanni Marsico. At the event, we were masterminding at tables, and Gio asked across the room what I thought about entrepreneurs leading by example. I responded by saying entrepreneurs should never lead by example. Disavow any thought of leading by example. It's one of the worst strategies we can use as an entrepreneur. As you can imagine, I had a lot of heads turn so I had to explain myself.
You don't want your team to do what you do. You want your team to do what they do. You want your team to achieve what they are expected of in their individual positions. You don't want them to show up and act like you. Leading by example is one of the biggest traps we can fall into because when we take on the mantle of leading by example, it makes you responsible for what's going on in the business. Not only does it make you solely responsible, but it's also just not enough. It's a good start but here's the problem. Far too many entrepreneurs look at that as “the speed of the boss is the speed of the team.” Which really translates to, the speed with which you as the leader to offload and change your behavior is the speed at which your team will modify and grow.
Another reason why you don't want to lead by example is that you don't want a team of people like you. You can be an inspiration to your team as to what a leader looks like, but you don't want them to mimic everything you do. Can you imagine an entire group of people exactly like you? It would be a disaster. So you can be an example, but your team can't succeed just by looking at you as an example. Every member of your team needs clear outcomes, measurements for perspective, and clear accountability.
Don't ever fall into the trap of saying I lead by example. It's one of the most disempowering thought processes you can take on as an entrepreneur. You may inspire people by example and be an example of what someone in your co should look like, but you can't lead by example. You should lead by process, structure, and clarity that will give your team the ability to win. If you're ready to start leading your team through a process and become the CEO you know you should be, stop waiting and contact us today. Let us help go to billionairecode.com.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: Recently, I as at an amazing event in Canada put on by my friend Giovanni at Archangel, some of the best events out there, just some of the most incredible people. And at the event, we were in a period where there was some masterminding going on at tables and Gio asks from across the room, "Hey Alex, what do you think about when entrepreneurs try to lead by example?" Well, I gave what most people in the room probably thought was an aggressive response but I think it was appropriate, and I'll share it with you in just a second.
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record-breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
I love going to Archangel because Giovanni and Stephanie who run Archangel Gio Marsico and Stephanie Estima are two of the most incredible people in the world and two really dear friends of mine. I value their relationships like crazy and it's cool being in a mastermind where it's run by friends. In fact, Gio and Stephanie are in our coaching group and we're in theirs, so it's a lot of fun to go back and forth. And during this last event there was a discussion and, like I said in the intro, one of the people at the table said, "Well, the way that I lead my team is by example." And then he went on to start sharing with the people. I wasn't there but I heard about it in our exchange. He was saying, "I make sure I'm there, I make sure I show them how we show up. I make sure that I'm the example that people key off of in our business and I lead by example." And that's why Gio asked me from across the room and my answer was. "Entrepreneurs should never lead by example. Disavow any thought of leading by example. It's one of the worst strategies we can use as entrepreneurs. And I said this loud in a room of over 100 people where it was a quiet mastermind and everybody could hear me. And then I immediately realized I had just created another awkward moment for myself where I had basically become a de facto public speaker by accident in the middle of the room. And I had to go on and explain why because so many people in the room had heard it and I did. Here's the bottom line, here's the punchline about leading by example.
You don't want your team to do what you do. You want your team to do what they do. You want your team to achieve what they're supposed to achieve in their individual positions. You want the members of your team to act like members of your team. You do not want them to show up and act like you. Leading by example is one of the biggest traps an entrepreneur can fall into.
I'm going to say it again, leading by example, the thought process, the mindset of leading by example is one of the biggest traps we can fall into because here's what happens when we take on this mantle, "I'm going to lead by example." One, it makes you responsible for what's going on in the business and so you have to example yourself more, or you have to be a better example. Let's just say you're leading by example and things aren't happening in the business, so what do you do? You have to change your example. You have to change how you show up. Do you have to modify how you show up? Leading by example just isn't enough. Not only does it make you responsible, but it's not enough.
Showing up and leading by example is a good start, it's okay but here's the problem. Far too many entrepreneurs look at that as, "I'm the first one in, I'm the last one out. I worked the hardest. I lead the charge. The speed of the boss is the speed of the team." That's actually a Lee Iacocca quote that has been misconstrued over and over and over again. "Speed of the boss is the speed of the team. Lead by example. The faster I go, the faster they go." Do you know what I have? Cocoa was really saying because he was exceptionally intelligent. One of the best CEOs in the history of the world. He was responsible for the Ford Mustang then he transferred over to Chrysler, which was dying, literally about to close, go bankrupt. He created the minivan and revitalized the entire organization. He's an incredible leader.
But when he said, "Speed of the boss is the speed of the team," you know what he was saying? The speed with which you as the leader offload and change your behavior is the speed at which your team will change, modify and grow because as a leader you need to offload where you are uncomfortable. You need to offload the things that are frustrating. You need to offload the bottlenecks that you are creating by being the leader of the team. So, leading by example is not enough, it woefully falls short. If your policy, or if your thought is, "I'm going to lead by example," as an entrepreneur, you are going to have an incredibly hard time maintaining any type of a team anywhere because it's not enough.
And here's the last thing. You don't want to lead by example because you don't want a team of people like you. This is what I said in Canada and I said this emotionally. I said, "You know what? The last thing I want is a team of people like me following what I do. I've got attention deficit disorder. I'm a content creator." And I don't really think it's a disorder, but let's be honest, I have ADD, or the symptoms of ADD. I'm all over the place. I'm creative. I'm thinking of new things. I'm walking around barefoot. I don't want my team to take my example. Can you imagine if our customer service person, or not just customer service, but the person who handles customer service and customer experience, [Misha 00:00:06:05], can you imagine if she took my example? I need her to be heard, not to be me. I want her to use me for inspiration, for her to use me for what a leader could be but not as an example of what you should be doing day to day. The last thing I want is a team of people who acts like me.
In fact, here's how you should lead. Let's get real about how you should lead people because leading by example is a myth, it doesn't work. Now you can show up and set an example. You can be an example for your team. You can be an example by getting your work done. You can be an example by making commitments and fulfilling those commitments. You can be an example by showing your team what your team culture looks like, by supporting your team, by asking them questions, by being curious. You can be an example. You can show them an example but your team cannot succeed just by using you as an example of how to be.
It doesn't matter how incredibly you lead, they need way more than you just being an example. Number one, every member of your team needs clear outcomes. That means they need to have clarity as to what their position really is. Is every member of your team, do they have a documented position right now that's current that tells them what their role is, what they're responsible for, what results they're driving? Does everyone on your team have that clear outcome? And does everyone on the team have clear outcomes around the projects they're involved in? As human beings, when we have an outcome, when we know the destination, when we know what we're headed, what we're orientated towards and what we are going to accomplish, it makes it that much easier. Your team doesn't need you to be an example. Your team needs you to give them the destination, so that they can go win.
The second thing everybody on your team needs is they need measurements. They need scorecards. They need the perspective as to whether they're winning. You could be an incredible leader that shows up every single day and works your head off and puts in 15 hours and does it with a level of efficiency and skill that nobody's ever seen. But if your team doesn't have clear outcomes and they don't have measurement for perspective, they don't have a scoreboard, they don't know how you're keeping score, you're not going to win. Not only are you not going to win, you're probably going to lose in a significant way when your team does not have clarity around how they are being judged, around what is progress, around perspective around that progress. You will feel stuck and you will be wondering why your team's not doing more, or not taking initiative, not accomplishing more. It's because they don't have a scoreboard. They don't have a clear outcome.
And the third thing that they need? Clear accountability. Again, it doesn't matter how incredible an example you set. Until you get clarity for each person as to what their role is, and what they're responsible for, and what the people around them are responsible for, you'll have people banging into each other and they will have a hard time achieving. They will have a hard time winning. They will have a hard time getting things done in your business. So, don't ever fall into the trap of saying, "I lead by example." That is one of the most disempowering thought processes you can take on as an entrepreneur. You may inspire people by example. You may be an example of what someone in your company should look like, but you cannot lead by example. You should lead through process and through structure and through clarity that will give your team the ability to win because check this out. When people have clear outcomes, they take initiative, they get excited, they go after it, they chase the outcome rather than asking what the next step is.
When people have measurement and a scoreboard, they have perspective as to whether they're winning. They get up and get excited everyday. They'll get into momentum. They'll actually be pumped about their job. You will see people in your business not just excited about the job, but you'll see them changing things in their lives. We have people in our business right now, they're getting in shape, lowering their debt, paying off college loans, quitting smoking, all kinds of stuff. When people are in momentum everything changes. And when you give people clear accountability, when they understand their role and the role of those around them, they are more excited to work because they know exactly what they should be doing. When you give people clear outcomes, measurement and accountability, you will put your entire team into momentum and you will see transformation across your team. Because you know what people aren't always given in their lives? You know what people aren't often given in their lives? They're not given a chance to succeed.
In most businesses, in most places where you've been in your life, you have not been given a chance to succeed. We showed up in school every day and what do we get? A daily assignment, so there was no runway, there was no excitement, there was no destination. In most jobs you show up and you do the work of the day. There's no runway, there's no outcome, there's no destination. So, when people come into your business, don't lead by example. Inspire them to succeed in a way that they never had before. Get them into momentum in their lives, in their relationships, in what they do, by giving them clear outcomes, measurement, a scoreboard and clear accountability. When you have those three things, clear outcomes, scoreboards, and clear accountability, every member of your team will win and you can disavow any idea of leading by example. Lead through process. Lead through structure. Create massive clarity and your entire team will grow. If you inspire your team, they will grow like crazy. Lead them through process and you will win over and over again.
If you're ready to start leading your team through process. If you're ready to become the CEO that you know you can be, and have a business that grows, and have a team that responds in the right way, and have a company of true believers who are excited to go out and change the world with you, stop waiting. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help.
Go to billionairecode.com, download a copy of our free ebook, the Billionaire Code Decoded. Set up a call with a member of my team. You will know exactly where you stand as an entrepreneur and let us help you get clarity right now, so you know what you should be doing next to get into maximum momentum, billionaire code.com.