5 Ways to Lead by Example at Work

Managers, take note: Your actions and everyday demeanor may not be giving the right impression.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a leader of your business, you should send the right message to your employees, business partners, customers and colleagues. Your staff members and the people at your workplace are expecting that you will lead by example.

You may think that your work can speak for itself, but your professional image and everyday demeanor may not project the impression that you ultimately want.

Just as you make snap judgments every day about others, the people you come into contact with make assumptions about you based on each interaction. Use these five tips to ensure that your intentions are reflected by your actions:

Related: 6 Things Effective Leaders Should Do to Inspire Their Teams

1. Arrive to work early.

If you regularly show up late, your employees might assume it's acceptable for them to do the same. In leadership, it's important to eliminate the mentality of "Do as I say, not as I do." Instead, exemplify the ideals and characteristics you'd like your employees to demonstrate when they come to work each day.

If you require members of your staff to arrive at a specific time, your duty as their leader is to arrive on time or earlier. The work ethic of your employees can be heavily influenced by your actions. If they see you hard at work bright and early every morning, they're much more likely to mirror your behavior.

2. Embody your company's brand.

Is your online image congruent with your personal brand? Set aside time to regularly update your blog, website and social-media profiles to be sure they accurately and positively reflect what your business is all about. Then make sure you and your employees continue to deliver on the promise of your company's brand.

Related: 6 Key Tips for Leading by Example

3. Dress the part.

What you wear is your personalized method of nonverbally presenting yourself to the world. How you dress and carry yourself can communicate to others that you are competent, knowledgeable, conscientious and powerful, among other things.

To dress the part, make classic wardrobe choices. Invest in quality clothing, create a consistent personal style and opt for an appearance that appropriately matches your business and industry.

4. Share the credit.

An entrepreneur cannot succeed by working solo forever. Collaboration is the key to success. You will quickly lose respect with your colleagues and co-workers if you tune them out and refuse to share the spotlight with them.

When you distribute the credit and shower people with praise, you're much more likely to inspire and motivate them to do their best. Surround yourself with people who complement your strengths not just the ones who compliment you.

5. Fine-tune your listening skills.

Entrepreneurs need to listen to learn. Strive to become a better listener. If you're tempted to glance at your smartphone each time it pings or vibrates, turn it off or leave it in your office. Practice patience and try to not interrupt when someone is talking. Be attentive, make eye contact, nod and ask pertinent questions. Insist that your employees follow your example. After all, courtesy and good manners never go out of style.

Related: Want to Be a Better Leader? Show Employees You Care.

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game

Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take To Get There.

Author Joanne Lipman on what experience and science tell us about successful job pivots.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.


50 Work-From-Home Jobs that Pay As Much or More than Average Salary

If you're tired of driving to an office and would love to work at home, there are plenty of high-quality full-time work-from-home jobs for you.

Money & Finance

How to Identify a Good Investment (Even During Economic Uncertainty)

By knowing precisely what a good investment looks like, you'll be able to make wise decisions quickly, efficiently and confidently, no matter what else is happening in the world.