Leading by Example, Is It Enough?

Leading by Example, Is It Enough?

Leadership is an interesting and a “mysterious” subject, as it is both science and art. It’s identifiable, but can be quite challenging to measure quantitatively. Charisma, character, competence, creativity and care are the 5Cs used to recognize a leader. And the culmination of those 5Cs is “leading by example.”

However, great leaders do more than leading by example. They also cultivate new leaders.

The “science” part of leadership comes from its pragmatic results, which can be measured, such as the output of a production activity and a sales figure. The “art” part refers to behaviors, which can be interpreted differently, such as a decision may not be considered favorable to employees but can make a difference for the business.

The best leader both accomplishes goals and inspires others to do their best by revealing their potentials. Cultivating new leaders can be in various forms, in addition to with exemplary behaviors. Verifiable words and enlightening stories delivered in an exciting way have been strong leaders’ favorites.

Here are five things to do for leaders who lead by example while also cultivating new leaders meaningfully.


First, choose a suitable “leadership brand.” Leading by facilitating is also known as “leading from the side.” Others lead from the front and from behind. “Leading from the front” refers to the leadership style where the leader is judged by their actions, not their words. “Leading from behind” means they allow people they lead to act, while they provide guidance and encouragement. Whichever path was chosen, it’s imperative to be aware of how your leadership skills grow along with how your followers also grow.


Second, develop tenets based on your leadership brand and values. Create simple and original tenets and stick by them whenever your team members need a reference. Use positive words as much as possible, i.e. “honesty” and not “don’t lie; “persevere” and not “don’t be lazy.” You can develop a one-paragraph description for each tenet and more detailed guidelines on execution.


Third, keep a record of important leadership incidents to be used as a best-practice case study. Aim at creating a benchmark. Developing a knowledge base for future generations of leaders would retain your leadership status for many years to come. Be as detailed as possible in the record, including the dates, problems, conversations, and solutions.


Fourth, write and tell vignettes of inspiring stories projecting your leadership values. Every moment is an opportunity to share stories that make a difference. A true leader motivates, inspires, and guides by communicating ideals, ideas, and reflective moments. Share stories that make sense and in alignment with your leadership brand and style. For instance, if one of your tenets is “creative solutions to serve customers better,” share anecdotes about how you once helped a customer creatively.


Fifth, keep a record of how your leadership influenced others and inspired people to act favorably. From time to time, you will hear how people are moved by your leadership. Add another page to your knowledge base on the actual incidents of this positive feedback. If there are negative comments, take note of them as well, so they can be of future use.

Last but not least, be mindful of what you think as your leadership brand and style with how people actual perceive them. When encountering a negative feedback, make sure to take note of the issue and learn from it. Identifying your leadership strengths and weaknesses is key to a healthy corporate culture and leadership growth.

About Alder Koten

Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services.

The firm was founded in 2011 and currently includes 6 partners and over 28 consultants in 4 cities.

The firm’s headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

We know where to find the executives you need and how to attract top talent to your organization. Our approach to executive search is based on a thorough understanding of the strategic, cultural, financial and operational issues our clients face. Our executive search engagements are targeted and focused on the specific requirements of the position including industry and functional experience, skills, competencies, cultural fit, and leadership style. Our process is rigorous. We take a disciplined and structured approach to identifying potential candidates that meet the position requirements including subject-matter, functional and regional expertise. We use our high-level professional networks, industry knowledge, and internal research resources to achieve results in every executive search engagement.

Jose Ruiz is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.