February 26, 2011

Do as I do, but not all the time

Lead by example.  It's one of my favorite leadership principles.  On the surface it's quite simple, but there are so many underlying aspects of it that make it so powerful.  Most obviously, if I can show you two how to act instead of simply telling you how to act (especially since actions and words aren't always the same), I can raise you girls to do the right things.  For myself, knowing that someone is always watching, judging ("look at the baby, look at the baby"), is the greatest motivator for myself to do the right things as well.  It's circular, I try to scratch your backs, you scratch mine.  We're all better for it.

What happens though when you see your dear old dad mess up?  As much as I try to get things right the first time, every time, I'm going to get them wrong sometimes.  I don't always get it right when it comes to discipline.  Or handling frustration.  Even when I know you're watching, I still do it wrong.  That's not leading you two by example, and telling you to do as I say, not as I do is probably the worst response I could make.  

What is an example is showing you how to react to those mistakes.  We all have the ability to learn, if we just pay attention.  Like I've written before, when we mess up, we need to take a moment to realize our mistakes, think about how to fix or recover from them, then press on.  At this point, it's not as much a lesson for you as it is for me and your mom.  If we can learn to handle our mistakes, and you see how we're able to do this, then we don't need to be perfect to raise you right (thank the Lord!).  We just need to lead by example.


  1. "Look at the baby." Ha! I clicked on the link right before I remembered that's from the greatest comedy ever made.

    I agree, leading by example is powerful. Quiet strength. Most great leaders do it.

  2. I love that movie!

    Did you ever read Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength? Very good book. I think leading by example is the most powerful form of leadership. I think it's also growing increasingly rare on the public stage. Or maybe it's just not newsworthy. Unfortunate either way.

  3. Yes, I did. It's an excellent book.

    I don't think quiet strength is on the public stage very much because when a person is leading in this way, it takes time to to receive a lot of attention -- if any attention comes at all. With a media that puts a premium on a lot of quick exposure, loudness and hyperbole rule the land.

  4. Noisy superficiality. The antithesis?


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