Some parents adopt the "Do as I say not as I do" style of child rearing. Yet their actions undermine their instructions, leaving kids confused.
Managers can fall into a similar trap. Employees who see a disconnect between their supervisors' words and deeds may lose faith and grow cynical.
As much as you want to lead by example, it's easy to send mixed signals. You may not realize when your words clash with your actions—and your staff probably won't tell you. Here are two ways to model what you want from others:
Prioritize your customers. You're always telling your team to lavish attention on your "A" customers. But if they see you spending hours each week attending to minor clients while ignoring the heavy hitters, they will dismiss your entreaties.
Sort your customers in descending order of sales. Then chart how you allocate your time. Invite your employees to do the same and compare notes.
Together, you may discover how much energy you're expending on "B" or "C" customers at the expense of the most important ones.
Cut costs—visibly. You want to rally the troops to operate with an eye toward expense reduction. Fair enough. Just make sure you lead the charge.
Deny yourself perks and make due with old equipment. When your employees see that you value the organization's money, they will too.