What most people think it means vs what it really means
Leading by example is a pretty worn concept, meaning, most people know what it is and what it means. Its one of those things that is overplayed a bit - everyone is "leading by example" these days. But what I find interesting is that not many people are following.
Leading by example: What people think it means
So lets start by looking at what leading by example means to most people: 1. Be the hardest worker in the room. 2. Practice what you preach. 3. Do, don't say.
I don't think any of this stuff is revolutionary to you, you've heard it time and time again, right? And yes, I do believe this stuff is incredibly important for anyone trying to lead by example. But that brings me back to my original question - why isn't anyone following? Why aren't we motivating people to burn their questions and to shut up and hit the grindstone?
Leading by example: What I think it means
Let's get into the details of leading by example; what so many people neglect and choose to ignore. See, what I think leading by example means is what it ISN'T. Leading by example ISN'T complaining. It ISN'T whining and it ISN'T making excuses. Leading by example is eliminating your ego and cockiness. Leading by example is forbidding negative thoughts into your mind and only seeing positive outcomes. Leading by example is keeping these tiny little tendencies in check.
I think so many people who are "leading by example" are missing the boat because, yes they are practicing what they preach, they are doing the right things and working the hardest, but it is what they allow to come out of their mouth that brings them back down to everyone else's level.
For example, take an athlete who works his butt off during a workout, so much so that you are extremely impressed by his effort. But then after the workout, its complaint after complaint about what went wrong. Or he or she lets a cocky remark slip, or walks around with a sense of entitlement. Just like that, this person went from inspirational and motivational all the way down to they're full of themselves.
So I challenge you to re-evaluate how you are leading by example. Yes, you better be doing the obvious things, but those are just cost of admission. But what are you doing when it comes to the subtle things - they way you are being perceived by those you want following you? Are you truly a leader in their eyes, or cocky? A leader, or a complainer? A leader, or a whiner? It's up to you.