Leading by example is probably one of the most challenging things you will work on your entire life. And the work continues... The reality is that we have become accustomed to holding others to very high standard without really looking at ourselves first. Quick to judge or jump to conclusions, we often want others to change so they can suit us better and fit into the picture we have created. "If he could just stop doing this! If she could simply start doing that!..." and the list goes on.
But as you point one finger at the other person, there are still four pointing back at you. Do you measure your own behavior by the same standards or do you give yourself a pass because you "didn't mean it" or "it was a mistake"?
Leadership is hard because as you lead others, your responsibility is not only to delegate tasks and ensure that the people you are leading follow your orders but to inspire, encourage and impact in a positive way. Sounds difficult? To be honest, it is. Especially if you go about it the wrong way. If at this point, you just took out your notepad to start writing down inspirational words you will share with the people around you henceforth, then pause for a moment.
One thing I have learned is that your words are only one part of the equation. How you conduct yourself and your behavior is what you will also be measured by. Words are of utmost importance, no doubt about that, but how much does your word count if your behavior is not a reflection of the things you communicate to others? For example if you promised someone to help them move to a new place and you never showed up, what will the person hold you accountable for? Your words or your actions? Both. You promised something that you didn't keep. So, leading by example, is not just speaking the words but also following them through.
Now you might say that this doesn't apply to you because you neither have a team under you at work nor in your church, nor in your various recreational activities, therefore no need to think about good leadership. But are we not all leaders in some aspects of our lives? In your home, in your family, in your circle of friends or even when you are out taking a walk. In those moments you have people surrounding you and have the opportunity to conduct yourself as a leader. One of the biggest misinterpretations of leadership is that having people under you automatically makes you an able and good leader or that leadership only commences when you have been given the responsibility to lead others. Good leadership starts right now. Always having the mindset of a leader and leading by example will keep you alert and conscious of the fact that you will be held accountable for your actions. “One who is faithful in the smallest matters is also faithful in much, and the one unjust in the smallest matters will likewise be unjust in much." Luke 16:10 TLV
Often we forget that other people's behavior shouldn't navigate the way we behave. Who we want to be as people shouldn't depend on how others act towards us. Our mere reaction and behavior could affect more change than a thousand words spoken in anger or complaint.
It has been scientifically proven that children imitate their parents. Just imagine yourself handling challenging situations with wisdom and grace at all times and passing those values on to your children. Would you ever worry about them not being able to hold their own in school or any other place when faced with opposition? Well, you shouldn't. Instead, you should have peace of mind and be confident knowing that your leadership had taught them well.
Let your personality and conduct inspire the people around you to change for the better. A true leader can inspire without using any words at all. Focus less on what others around you are doing wrong and more on what you can do better to inspire them to change for good.