Leaders are the Example, NOT the Exception

Last Updated: December 24, 2023 | by Paul Harstrom

In today’s world, true leaders are a rare find. Leaders are the ones who embody the values they preach and lead by example.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that leaders are not to be the exception but rather the example. They are the ones who should inspire others through their actions and build trust and credibility.

This article will explore the importance of leading by example and discuss the traits that make a leader effective. Get ready to discover how to create a culture of excellence and accountability through authentic leadership.

How To Lead By Example?

“Leaders are the example, not the exception” encapsulates the idea that influential leaders should embody the values, behaviors, and standards they expect from their team members. As stated by Donald H. McGannon:

 “Leadership is action, not position.”

Donald H. McGannon

Leaders should demonstrate through their actions how to collaborate effectively and adhere to the organization’s values. Influential leaders understand that their behavior sets the tone for the entire team.

How Leaders are the Example

Suppose they expect their team to work hard, be punctual, communicate openly, and treat each other respectfully. In that case, they should be the ones showcasing these behaviors consistently.

When leaders practice what they preach, they build trust and credibility. 

Suppose a leader enforces specific rules or standards but doesn’t follow them personally. In that case, it can create a sense of hypocrisy and erode trust among team members. Being consistent in actions and words establishes a foundation of trust and respect.

When team members see their leaders working hard, displaying resilience, and continuously striving for improvement, it can motivate and inspire them to do the same. Leaders who lead by example inspire their teams to aim higher, knowing their efforts are part of a collective journey toward success.

When leaders show that they are open to learning new skills and adapting to changes, it encourages team members to embrace a growth mindset and seek opportunities for improvement.

Leaders should also model healthy conflict resolution. When disputes or disagreements arise, leaders who address them respectfully and constructively teach their team how to handle conflicts professionally and maintain a positive work environment.

The Importance of Leading by Example:

You need to understand the importance of leading by example. Leading by example is crucial because it sets the tone for others to follow. When leaders demonstrate positive behavior and work ethic, it inspires and motivates their team members to do the same.

Leaders are the Example: Explore how leaders set examples and their importance.

By leading with integrity and accountability, leaders create a culture of trust and respect within their organization. Employees are likelier to trust and respect a leader who practices what they preach.

Furthermore, leading by example helps to establish clear expectations and standards for everyone. It allows leaders to show their team members how to navigate challenges and overcome obstacles.

When leaders lead by example, they gain their team’s trust and loyalty and create a positive and productive work environment.

Traits of Effective Leadership:

To be an effective leader, you must possess certain traits that set you apart. One key trait is self-confidence. Leaders must believe in themselves and their abilities to inspire others.

Another important trait is good communication skills. Influential leaders can clearly articulate their vision and mission and listen to the ideas and concerns of their team members.

Additionally, a leader must be adaptable and flexible. They must navigate through change and handle unexpected situations with grace and composure. Lastly, a leader must have strong integrity and be trustworthy.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


People are more likely to follow someone they can trust and who acts with honesty and transparency. These traits are essential for effective leadership and can make a significant impact on the success of a team or organization.


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Inspiring Others Through Actions:

You inspire others to follow your lead by consistently demonstrating integrity and trustworthiness. People are more likely to respect and emulate your behavior when you act with honesty and reliability.

This sets a positive example and encourages others to strive for the same level of integrity. Additionally, your actions speak louder than words in terms of gaining trust and loyalty from those around you.

When you consistently demonstrate ethical behavior, people feel more comfortable relying on you. They are more likely to trust your decisions. Your actions can motivate and inspire others to become better versions of themselves.

Find inspiration in leaders who lead by example.

So, remember that being a leader is not just about giving orders but also about inspiring others through your actions and leading by example.

Building Trust and Credibility as a Leader:

When building trust and credibility as a leader, it is essential to demonstrate integrity and reliability consistently. As a leader’s actions speak louder than words, following through on promises and commitments is critical.

By being transparent and honest, leaders can establish trust with their team members. Reliability is essential, consistently delivering on expectations and meeting deadlines.

Building credibility as a leader also involves consistently making decisions and treating everyone fairly and respectfully. This includes admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for them. 

By consistently demonstrating these qualities, leaders can foster a culture of trust and credibility within their teams, ultimately leading to tremendous success and collaboration.

Creating a Culture of Excellence and Accountability:

You can create a culture of excellence and accountability by setting high standards and holding yourself and others responsible for meeting them.

Establishing clear expectations and consistently following through with consequences fosters a sense of ownership and commitment within your team.

Encourage open communication and collaboration, allowing everyone to contribute their best ideas and insights. Recognizing and rewarding exceptional performance reinforces the importance of striving for excellence.

Lead by example, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes you expect from others. Hold regular feedback sessions to provide constructive criticism and offer guidance for improvement.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” 

John C. Maxwell

Celebrate achievements and milestones, acknowledging the collective efforts contributing to the excellence and accountability culture.

With dedication and consistency, you can cultivate a work environment where everyone is committed to their best work.

Conclusion on Leaders are the Example:

Leaders must understand that they are not exempt from setting a positive example for others. By embodying the traits of effective leadership and inspiring others through their actions, leaders can build trust and credibility within their teams.

This, in turn, creates a culture of excellence and accountability. Leaders who lead by example empower their team members to strive for greatness and ultimately achieve success. So remember, leaders are the example, not the exception.

Please share your thoughts about it in the comment section below!

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We are on a mission to help our clients gain the clarity they need to wholly pursue their God-given purpose and grow profitable enterprises.


How Can Leaders Maintain Consistency in Their Actions When Faced With Challenging Situations?

Leaders can maintain consistency in challenging situations by staying true to their principles, making decisions with integrity, and being transparent in their actions.

Leaders must lead by example, showing others how to handle difficult circumstances.

What Are Some Practical Ways for Leaders to Inspire Their Team Members to Follow Their Example?

Practical ways for leaders to inspire team members to follow their example include clear communication, setting high standards, providing support, and recognizing achievements. By doing so, leaders create a positive environment for growth and development.

How Can Leaders Effectively Communicate Their Values and Expectations to Build Trust and Credibility Among Their Team Members?

Leaders can effectively communicate values and expectations by consistently modeling them and fostering open and transparent communication.

Building trust and credibility among team members is crucial, and leaders play a pivotal role in setting the tone.

How Can Leaders Address Instances Where Their Actions May Not Align With the Values They Promote and Still Maintain Credibility?

Leaders must address instances where their actions don’t align with their promoted values. It’s crucial to maintain credibility by acknowledging the discrepancy, taking responsibility, and actively working to align their actions with their stated values.

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