"In my experience as a senior executive in the competitive and fast-paced sporting goods industry, I have seen my share of good leaders.

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“I Don’t Know” is not an Excuse: Leaders Practicing What They Teach

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As a leader, manager or business-owner, it can be tempting to assume your employees and colleagues on board with the company’s goals and values. Though a healthy level of trust is required for productive work relationships, a leader cannot bury their head in the proverbial sand: they are not only a role model; they are also responsible for the well being and success of their department or business. Therefore, knowing what is going on in your business – from employee relationships to customer satisfaction – is of the outmost importance.

Good Leaders:
  • Lead by example, are role models for behavior, standards and work ethic for their colleagues and employees.
  • Know what is going on at the ground level of the company: from employee satisfaction to the day-to-day challenges, it is a leader’s responsibility to be in-the-know.
  • Take ownership of the principles and ideals of the organization so that they reflect the leader’s values.
  • Maintain a healthy cultural climate and resolve issues that can affect the organization.
  • Practice active listening, sound judgement and prioritization for effective decision-making.
  • Take accountability, admit when they have made a mistake, sincerely apologize and employ a solutions-oriented attitude.

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Bad Leaders:
  • Forget that their behaviour and attitude sets the example for colleagues and employees and hold others to a higher standard.
  • Are unaware of the cultural climate at their organization.
  • Use “I didn’t know” as an excuse.
  • Expect others to resolve problems unaided and without incentives or consequences, thereby allowing bad feelings to fester.
  • Shirk the responsibility of upholding the values and ideals of the organization or permit (through ignorance or passivity) others to undermine the institution’s principles.
  • Cast blame and avoid being accountable.

Of course, even the most dedicated business owner cannot know everything that goes on in their business. As employees and co-workers, every adult is responsible for their own behaviour, but as a leader, the responsibility is amplified. The goal is to avoid wilful ignorance and instead to maintain open channels of communication to better understand the goings-on of the workplace. Leading by example is always the first and best way to show others not only what is expected of them, but also to create a healthy and honest workspace.

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Julie Nimmons

Julie Nimmons

Julie uses her 30 years’ experience to help CEOs, executives and business owners in her Vistage Group find success in their businesses and personal lives. With positive leadership, a firm sense of prioritization and the commitment to lifelong learning, Julie’s creates a constructive workspace for Group members where honesty, innovation and cooperation can flourish.