Leading by Example

Genuine author­i­ty is not a ques­tion of rank, but of exem­plary behav­ior, for lead­er­ship is based more on imi­ta­tion than on sub­or­di­na­tion. We could save our­selves a lot of resis­tance, strug­gle and suf­fer­ing in our dai­ly life in orga­ni­za­tions and fam­i­lies if we our­selves authen­ti­cal­ly rep­re­sent­ed the change we want to see in our envi­ron­ment. Only those who can lead them­selves so sin­cere­ly can lead oth­ers through their example.

Be the change you wish to see in the world!

There is this sto­ry about Mahat­ma Gand­hi and though it is not ver­i­fied it is no less inspir­ing. A woman came from far away with her son to see Gand­hi. She was deeply  wor­ried about her son because he ate too much sug­ar and although he got sick from it he could­n’t stop it.

So she wait­ed patient­ly for many hours and when it was her turn she said: “Please Mas­ter, tell my son to stop eat­ing sug­ar”. Gand­hi looked deep into the boy’s eyes and then replied to the moth­er: “Bring him back in two weeks.

She went home dis­ap­point­ed and came back after two weeks. When they stepped in front of Gand­hi this time, he said, “Boy, you have to stop eat­ing sug­ar.” With respect for Gand­hi and his wis­dom, the boy promised to stop eat­ing sug­ar and led a healthy life ever since.

But the moth­er was con­fused and asked Gand­hi, “Why did­n’t you tell my son so two weeks ago? Gand­hi answered: “Two weeks ago I ate a lot of sug­ar myself. I had to stop eat­ing it first.”

An ounce of prac­tice is worth more than tons of preaching.

Mahat­ma Gandhi

Leading by Example

Who would have act­ed like Gand­hi in this sto­ry? Who would­n’t have sim­ply suc­cumbed to the wish of this moth­er with­out con­scious reflec­tion of one’s own behav­ior? Who would­n’t thus have giv­en the demand­ed but not very authen­tic and there­fore weak advice imme­di­ate­ly? How do we behave every day in meet­ings, com­mit­tees or towards our chil­dren? And how does this behav­ior match our inten­tions and words?

Exam­ple is not the main thing in influ­enc­ing oth­ers; it is the only thing.

Albert Schweitzer

This age of dig­i­tal­iza­tion is char­ac­ter­ized by major changes. In order for these trans­for­ma­tions not to evap­o­rate as inef­fec­tive change the­ater, lead­ing by exam­ple is required. No one should pre­tend that this is about chang­ing oth­ers – and espe­cial­ly employ­ees – while their own role and posi­tion will remain unaffected.

What you are speaks so loud­ly, I can’t hear what you are saying.

Ralph Wal­do Emerson

Espe­cial­ly the agile trans­for­ma­tion, i.e. the change towards more agili­ty through decen­tral­ized deci­sion-mak­ing struc­tures in the form of self-orga­niz­ing teams, is first and fore­most a mas­sive lead­er­ship trans­for­ma­tion. Agili­ty is not just some sort of con­cen­trat­ed feed with which employ­ees can do their work faster and more flex­i­bly, while every­thing else stays the same. Quite the oppo­site, agili­ty is about tak­ing a holis­tic view of the orga­ni­za­tion and opti­miz­ing the entire val­ue stream. And in doing so, lead­er­ship is split into self-orga­ni­za­tion, prod­uct man­age­ment and human lead­er­ship in the sense of the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship.

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