If you want your employees to dance the fandango, then you, too, should dance the fandango.
Subordinates fashion their behavior according to that of their leaders. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Roger Martin argues that a good chief executive “models desired behavior,” and he singles out former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley as a leader who came in and did it right. For example, “executives throughout P&G realized that if the CEO wasn’t too busy to do in-home consumer visits, neither were they.”
Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, says that, most important of all, “P&G employees came to appreciate that while Lafley cared about shareholder value, he saw it is an output of the things he aspired for P&G, not a singular and direct goal.” The shareholders who were to be rewarded, therefore, were those who were in for the long haul.
Peter Drucker often wrote of leading by example, and he also stressed the importance of long-term thinking. “Managing others is most effectively done by example rather than by preaching or policy,” he wrote in The Changing World of the Executive. “If the example is lacking, the most moving sermon and the wisest policy rarely work. ‘Do as I tell you and not as I do’ is the motto of the outsider, the consultant. Effective executives know that their associates will do as the boss does, and not necessarily as the boss says.”
What sort of example does today’s CEO most urgently need to set?