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Leadership takes on so many flavours – you have the democratic leader, the authoritative one (I try to minimize this!), the bureaucrat, the coaching leader, and so many others.  Regardless of your leadership style, there’s one thing which can – or should be – readily demonstrated by any leader:  leading by example. 

Leading by example includes a variety of factors such as keeping your word and demonstrating the qualities and practices you preach.  That last one seems to be where many leaders struggle, or rather sacrifice, themselves on the altar of altruism.  So many leaders encourage those they mentor to speak, to continue in their path, to achieve their awards … but then don’t do so themselves because they’re so busy encouraging everyone else.

While well-meaning, this has its own counterproductive side.  Part of leading by example is in demonstrating our practices, including doing speeches regularly, trying a project that no one else in your club has yet attempted, or stepping up at the last minute when a speaker is needed.  If you’re not doing this as a leader, you’re cheating yourself of the recognition you’ve earned, and you’re cheating those around of the benefit of your full example.  Letting a new member evaluate their mentor as a speaker provides a whole new depth of experience. By opening yourself, you support a safe environment for others to do so as well.  Plus, you remind them that growth is a continuum, not a destination.

How will you build on your own skills in leading by example?

Author:  Kris Nelson, DTM, District 123 Director 2021/22

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