How to set an inspiring example others will follow

We live in an image-crazed society where we worry too much about our reputation and too little about our character. And we focus more on the PR spin we can give our image than the actual example we’re setting.

But there’s hope. The very best leaders, the most effective leaders, the truly motivating leaders continue to realize the importance of leading by example. In fact, in the long run…

► 1. Nothing is more critical to a leader’s success than his/her example.

Clergyman and abolitionist John Woolman pointed that out in the 1700’s. He said, “Conduct is more convincing than language.”

Every politician, every sports hero, and every TV and movie celebrity should be required to memorize Woolman’s statement … for their own good … as well as the good of everyone else. Otherwise, they may have to learn the hard way, like John Gilmore, the professional baseball player. (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

Perhaps you remember the story. Timmy’s favorite baseball player was John Gilmore. In Little League, he wore the same number as Gilmore. He collected Gilmore’s souvenir cards and memorized all of his stats. Timmy carried his baseball glove with him everywhere and hoped to one day meet his idol and get his autograph.

So the day he walked into the Burger Hut and saw Gilmore seated at a booth in the corner, Timmy thought it was his lucky day. As he approached the table, an elderly man walked up to Gilmore and asked for his autograph.

“Look, can’t you see I’m eating.” Gilmore growled at the old man. Timmy stood motionless; his eyes wide with uncertainty. Why was Gilmore so mean to that old man? Timmy wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Just before he turned to walk away, Gilmore looked at him and barked, “Hey kid, what are you staring at?”

Timmy was so disappointed that he decided to trade away all of his John Gilmore cards for the cards of other players. Some of his fellow Little Leaguers did the same thing after hearing Timmy’s story.

The incident somehow found its way into internet forums and chat rooms. It came to light that other folks had witnessed similar outbursts from Gilmore. Then the minor incident catapulted into a major crisis for the celebrity. Sales of his jerseys dropped; kids lost interest in collecting his cards, and the negative press made him less desirable to sponsors.

Unfortunately, Gilmore failed to realize that you never know who’s watching you. But every effective leader knows they are being watched and their example has a huge impact on others.

To help you set the kind of example you want to set, to celebrate the upcoming 1000th issue of Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip on August 13, 2019, I’m going to give you a host of transformational tools … including my 93 best tips ever and 1000 free books.

Don’t miss the celebration on August 13th.

In the meantime,

► 2. Nothing is more critical to a leader’s success than his/her example.

You see … everybody else around you knows what example you set.

As Joseph M. Tucci, the CEO of the information management firm EMC, says, “Every move you make, everything you say, is visible to all. Therefore, the best approach is to lead by example.”

Management consultant Darcy Hitchcock affirms that. She says, “Employees are professional ‘boss watchers.’ That is, what managers say means nothing … unless their actions model what they say.”

If everybody around you knows what your example is saying, the question is … do you know? You can’t afford to go to work … or even try to lead at home … if you don’t fully understand the example you’re setting. You could be leading people in the wrong direction and not even know it.

And then, strive to…

► 3. Lead with an example of true character.

Your character is revealed in the way you treat people. As author Michael Josephson points out, “The way we treat people we think can’t help or hurt us (like housekeepers, waiters, and secretaries), tells more about our character than how we treat people we think are important. People who are honest, kind, and fair only when there’s something to gain shouldn’t be confused with people of real character who demonstrate these qualities habitually, under all circumstances.”

So how would people describe you? As a leader of character … who always treats everyone with respect and kindness? Or do you sometimes treat people as things to be used in the pursuit of your goals?

Your character is also revealed in the way you deal with the pressures and temptations that cross your path. Do you do the right things all the time? Or do your actions and values take a nosedive when you think no one is looking and you won’t get caught?

Bottom line,

► 4. You’ve got to walk your talk.

As someone said, “Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” Simply put, you can’t say one thing and do another and expect to be a leader who inspires the followership of others.

One doctor knew that. The doctor noticed a woman and her son happened to be bickering in his examination room as he walked in. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.

“My son eats sweets constantly. I’ve tried telling him that sugar is bad for his health and his teeth,” the woman explained. “But he doesn’t believe me. He’ll listen to you, though. Please tell my son to stop eating sugar.

The doctor thought to himself for a moment and said, “Bring him back in exactly one week.”

Puzzled, the woman did as instructed and returned one week later. “We’re back,” she said. “I hope you can help me this week.”

The doctor examined the boy’s teeth, took his weight and measurements, and finally said, “Son, I have some bad news for you. You can’t eat any more sugar. It’s not good for you. And if you don’t believe me, I can draw some of your blood and have a test done on it that will prove it to you.”

At the sight of the needle, the boy agreed not to eat any more sugar.

“Thank you, Doctor,” said the woman. “But out of curiosity, why couldn’t you do this last week?”

“Because last week I still ate sugar,” said the doctor. “And it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be much of a doctor if I didn’t follow my own advice.” He knew about walking his talk.

Final Question: What’s the example you’re setting? Would the world be a better or poorer place if everyone acted like you?

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 995– How to set an inspiring example others will follow