“Example has more followers than reason.”
~ Christian Nevell Bovee
It’s advice all managers hear, and will never question, for it sounds so sensible, so right. “Set a good example.”
However what most do, is tuck that advice away in the back of their mind without giving it enough consideration. We trust that we will remember it when a decision pops up that requires ethical and values-based thinking. But you know what happens? When those situations do arise, “Set a good example” gets pushed aside for “I have to show them what to do.” Big difference.
Imagine what might happen if we turned “Set a good example” into a deliberate strategy, a very personal, “all about me and my actions” Ho‘ohana strategy.
For instance, this is how marriage counselors have used it: They have turned “Set a good example.” into “Be the change you want in someone else; do the desired actions with them.” when one spouse will bemoan their partner’s bad habits, wishing for better ones. If you want them to commit to a better diet, you’re best advised to do the meal planning, shopping, and cooking together. If you want them to exercise, you’ll change your own workout routine for a new one, to better understand why they struggle in the start-up phase, and how you can support and encourage them similar to the encouragements you feel work best for you.
It’s a terrific approach for Alaka‘i Managers to take in the workplace. Set a good example by putting yourself in another’s shoes. Immerse yourself in their world to learn empathy, and solve workplace problems not as you normally would in your larger circle of influence, but as they would have to solve them if they had to do so totally on their own.
You will uncover their obstacles, and learn of their adversity. What you think is “another lame excuse” might be much a more valid roadblock than you realize. Where we usually get tripped up, is in starting from where we are instead of where they are.
Set a good example. If you can do it, you can bring others with you.
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