We all know that the strengths and weaknesses in any depart- ment or organization can often mirror those of the people who run it. If you, as a manager, have difficulty getting the people who work for you to measure up to the standards upon which you insist, how about first taking a look at yourself. Do you measure up to these standards? Are you practising what you preach?

Here are 5 ideas to help you along this route:

  1. Set goals

Set a realistic goal and go for it. People are inspired when they work for a manager with a purpose. As we discussed under ‘setting your goals’, goals must be achievable, but as a manage- ment style it can be very motivating when managers set higher goals. There is always the risk that you might not achieve them. This doesn’t really matter, however, as long as it’s not a case of continual failure, as this will cause loss of credibility and will affect people’s belief that they can achieve future goals.

  1. Set an example

Recognize that, over a period of time, subordinates tend to become carbon copies of their chief. People do look to their superiors for guidance. You will see in so many different organizations how this emulating, either consciously or sub- consciously, not only filters through to work practices, but also to style of clothes and appearance, the way people communicate with each other, their timekeeping, their convictions and maybe even the newspapers they read. The list is endless. So once again, what sort of people do you want to have work- ing for you? Or if you are a leader outside the world of busi- ness, maybe in the sporting world or in the teaching profession, what sort of results – be they behavioural or communicative – are you hoping for? Remember, it starts with you!

  1. Constantly improve

Be a progressive thinker. Employ the ‘how can I do it better?’ thought process. Eliminate from your thoughts and your vocabulary ‘I am doing my best’ and never allow the people who you are leading to think that they are doing their best. As we all know – if we want to face the truth – we can all do better. In being a progressive thinker, one naturally has a thought process that always looks to the future rather than the past. And when undergoing self-analysis ask yourself this question: ‘Am I worth more today than I was yesterday or last week, last month or even last year?’ For a practising progressive thinker, every day is an opportunity for new experience, to gain new knowledge with the single purpose of being a better person at the end of the day.

  1. Give yourself time to think

Spend some time in uninterrupted thought. It’s really quite extraordinary and perhaps rather sad that so many leaders just do not allow themselves thinking time, and of those that do, it is not so much allowing themselves as snatching it, often while travelling. As we know, we have been given this incredible asset of a brain with limitless capacity, but at the same time we often inhibit its enormous power. Put aside perhaps half an hour a day purely for thinking, and you will be staggered by the results. I personally have found that some of my most productive days have been when I have spent some time on my own in a hotel or well away from the office, other people and the telephone. You will find that your own motivational level will increase after a period of uninter- rupted thinking time. Give yourself time for a good thinking session and worries can be put into perspective, goals and plans organized, and prob- lems solved. Always provide yourself with a pad of blank paper and a pen to jot down your thoughts and decisions as they come tumbling out.

  1. Lead without pushing

The most effective leadership is by example and not by edict. The motivated leader will lead, but not necessarily push, show but not necessarily tell. In most team sports, the captain is normally one of the best players. But one has to accept that the best performer will not necessarily have leadership skills, although this is the norm and a prerequisite for captaincy. There are very few exceptions tions: Mike Brearley, the ex-English cricket captain, most certainly was one and he is held in very high esteem as being one of the greatest captains of all time. However, he accepted that he was not one of the best cricketers in terms of batting or bowling. Martin Johnson, on the other hand, the ex-England rugby captain, World Cup winner, Lions captain and current England team manager, proves the point. The calibre of that man is, of course, rare, but nevertheless an example for many business leaders to aspire to.

Continually ask yourself one question: ARE YOU LEADING BY EXAMPLE?