As a leader of any type of team or group of people, you are being observed. That is the point, right? We want those people to listen to us and execute on our directives or imitate our behaviors.
That is until they observe us in an accidental moment not being the type of leader we want to be for our people. This rings true in the workplace and at home.
My daughter (and firstborn) recently got her driver’s learning permit. 😳 Even for months beforehand, she had a very watchful eye on my husband’s and my driving. So, I’ve been consciously driving the way I want her to drive – safely and obeying the traffic laws.
That sounds like I don’t normally drive well! 😉 My point is, that when you remember there are people learning from you every day, it’s important to be mindful of how to show up for them and what your words and actions are teaching.
That saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” is a dangerous way to lead. However, no one is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves or others. Perfection is a subjective word anyway and we all have different definitions for it.
How do you react when you have an accidental leadership moment?
Admit it and apologize if necessary. Talk about it. Be conscious to not let it happen again.
To further use my daughter’s driving as an example, I’ll confess what I did wrong at that moment (i.e. went through a yellow light a little too late) and we’ll talk about it. She was a witness to the unhealthy action so there’s no hiding it, but she can learn immediately a better way to handle it.
Same concept can apply to our work life. People are witnessing your moments too, so knowing how to handle the aftermath is crucial to being a leader worth following. This builds a psychologically safe environment for your people to be transparent with you when they make a mistake.
When they see you being vulnerable, they know they can be too. A bi-product of this is building a foundation of healthy communication and trusted relationships.