Remodelers Lead by Example

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Leadership is often confused with management. They are closely related, yet have distinctions making them quite different. Managing tends to focus on getting things done through others and mostly involves the day-to-day operations, while leading focuses on creating an environment that develops people into leaders who guide others and themselves to accomplish company objectives.

August 01, 2007

Doug Dwyer
Contributing Editor

Leadership is often confused with management. They are closely related, yet have distinctions making them quite different. Managing tends to focus on getting things done through others and mostly involves the day-to-day operations, while leading focuses on creating an environment that develops people into leaders who guide others and themselves to accomplish company objectives. Both are critically important to business success, and leadership has its own attributes remodelers should know.

As leaders we have tremendously important roles to our team. Employees watch every move we make consciously and subconsciously. What we do affects their behavior more than we sometimes realize or want to admit.

There is a saying I learned some time ago regarding parenting: "Children are natural mimics; they act like their parents in spite of every effort to teach them good manners." If we translate that into business, it would sound something like this: "Employees are natural mimics; they act like their leader in spite of every effort to teach them the business system." As business leaders, we can get so focused on training and education that we and our leadership team can overlook the importance of modeling correct behavior (following the system) — especially important if we expect others to do the same.

Most of us probably remember the saying, "Do as I say, not as I do." As we learned, that is not the most effective leadership strategy. As human beings, we instinctively mimic and become like those around us, especially those in a leadership role close to us. Think about people who have had the greatest influence on your life. Did they influence you by the words they said or by their attitude and approach?

I experienced one of the best examples of leading by example while working at the Deer Valley Ski Resort in Utah. The leaders at the ski resort expected me to treat customers with an upbeat service attitude, with true sincerity all while being knowledgeable in my job as a ski instructor. I can tell you that they treated me exactly how they wanted me to treat the customer. It was very motivating and effective training. They also taught me educational skills a ski instructor needs: about child development, depth of perception, motor skills, skiing dynamic, etc.

If I simply treated the customer the way I was treated as an employee, then I was delivering a great customer experience. And with the training on the technical aspects of being a ski instructor, I was properly equipped to do my job well. Yes, we need to provide excellent training and education, yet not forget to lead by example to the best of our abilities. It's not about being perfect, but rather having a reputation of excellence. Nobody is perfect.

Another important aspect of leading by example is stretching ourselves as leaders to develop new skills and abilities. By doing so, we will inspire and encourage our team to do the same.

For example, at DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, we do a lot of team building, including spending a day on a ropes course. That said, I have climbed the high pole (approximately 20 feet) on the course and walked across it many times, so it is not as challenging as it used to be. Therefore, during a team building exercise, I decided to attempt walking across the pole with my eyes closed in order to stretch myself. Although I didn't make it across the pole, I was able to grow personally. And at the end of the day, one of my employees acknowledged my efforts and told the group I inspired him to want to be better at what he did because he saw me strive to better myself.

In addition to stretching ourselves to develop new skills and abilities, we should acknowledge mistakes we make with the utmost humility. In doing so, you and I are modeling the way we want employees to handle similar situations.


Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at doug.dwyer@dwyergroup.com.

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