It’s important for managers to remember that they are the leaders their employees look up to and, therefore, it is important to lead by example. I can’t help but find it fascinating how many leaders don’t realize that others are watching them when they demonstrate behaviors that aren’t exactly what they would wish to see their employees recreating. Here’s an example I unfortunately see multiple times a day when I’m at my office.
Just outside our building doors there is a large no smoking sign. There are multiple reasons for the placement of such a sign in that location. Entering or exiting the building you would have to walk through smoke, as well as, smoke in that area would enter the building itself if you were standing in that location. Despite the sign and just two examples of why that is a less than preferable area to smoke in, multiple times a day you can find a leader standing in front of it enjoying a smoke break. It happens five days a week and several times each of those five days. It’s almost comical to see someone smoking directly in front of an oversized sign that explicitly states smoking in that area is prohibited.
As managers walk in and out of the building they are greeted by the leader who is smoking in front of the no smoking sign. If I boil this down to basics, the managers are being greeted by a leader who is blatantly turning a blind eye to an explicitly stated regulation each day as they arrive for work. Some of those managers even happen to be the direct report of this leader, so it does make me wonder whether or not this is something that causes them to question the leader’s integrity when decisions are made. Authority might have been bestowed upon the leader in a corporate sense, but something even as comical as this could raise questions of credibility for decision making skills.
John C. Maxwell’s quote best sums up what should be happening in this case, but somehow isn’t:
Hopefully at some point this leader will begin to know the way, go the way, and show the way. However, until then, I guess we’ll all have to battle our way through the cloud of cigarette smoke as we enter and exit the building throughout the day.