I had a discussion with a buddy about different leadership styles. We talk about a few founder friends and compared their styles. I believe leaders have to figure out what style works best for them. Some people are great motivational speakers. Some are quiet and lead by example. All can be effective.
My buddy expressed a view that I hadn’t thought about: Leading by example is your only option when you have a team of A players because smart people don’t care what you say—they’re watching what you do and will take their cue from that.
I don’t totally agree with my friend. Smart people listen to what leaders say, but they take it a step further. They verify by paying attention to what leaders do. They make sure there’s alignment between a leader’s words and actions. When there’s a disconnect, they take note. Saying something is a lot easier than living it. So, when words and actions don’t align, smart people believe that action represents the truth. If a leader’s actions aren’t what they expect or don’t align with their values, you can expect them to start planning their exit.
If you’re a leader and you want to build an amazing team, remember that A players are listening and watching. Your actions must align with your words. If they don’t, you’ll end up with an average or worse team and average or worse results in your organization.