Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leading by Example

If you get your leadership lessons from what you see on television and in the movies, you will come away with the impression that a great leader gives lots of orders and tells everyone what to do.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Leaders lead by setting the right example. If they set the wrong example, they cannot compensate for it by giving the right instructions.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review Roger Martin explains how it works at Procter and Gamble.

In his words: “Because people in organizations watch what their leader does and follow suit, the CEO wields a powerful lever: modeling desired behaviors.

“When P&G CEO A.G. Lafley insisted that in-home visits with consumers be arranged for him in whatever city he visited in the P&G worldwide network, executives throughout P&G realized that if the CEO wasn't too busy to do in-home consumer visits, neither were they. When he worked with the board to get his stock-based compensation to vest in one-tenth increments in each of the 10 years following his retirement from P&G, his organization got the unmistakable impression that P&G was focused on the very long term and that obsessing about one's own short-term compensation wasn't very CEO-like. When he spoke only rarely about shareholder value and only then as utterly derivative of P&G's performance on winning the consumer value equation and building powerful brands, P&G employees came to appreciate that while he cared about shareholder value, he saw it is an output of the things he aspired for P&G not a singular and direct goal.”

To be slightly more pedestrian about it, last night the Dallas Cowboys played the Washington Redskins. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo played the game despite serious injuries. The week before he had suffered fractured ribs and a punctured lung.

Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant, a doubtful starter because of a thigh contusion, tweeted: “I wasn't for sure about going tonight but if a guy with a puncture lung and broken rib can get out there and play I can.. Tony inspired me.”