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A Good Example Outweighs Good Advice

As Kem Wilson reminded us at The Center in Memphis, “A good example has twice the value of good advice. It is not what you say, it is not what you know, it is what you do—it is what you practice—that is the acid test.”

There is a reason why Models the Way is the first capacity in Team Trek’s leadership model. All the other capacities are either enhanced or diminished by a leader’s consistency or inconsistency of character. Team members’ trust in the leader’s integrity rises or falls based their character and the example they set.

The second capacity in the leadership model is Influences the Heart, which is focused on communicating you care and building high trust relationships. Team members trust in a leader’s intent rests on believing the leader cares about them and does things for the right reasons. However, this is not simply caring about what people can do for you. Influences the Heart means genuinely caring about the person and having their best interest in mind. Caring for others is part of character as well and has a direct impact on our influence.

So how do you work on your character and influence? Through experience we have learned that the challenge for most people is developing the right habits. Working on yourself requires discipline—a daily set of rhythms that serve as guardrails to keep you moving down the right path.

Start with the Right Model

The value of a model is it creates clarity. It serves as a yardstick by which to measure ourselves. A model like the Five Capacities of Exceptional Leaders sets the bar high. Without the right model, the temptation is to set the bar low by comparing ourselves to others who are not living out the values we say are important. The mindset of “at least I am not as bad as…” is no way to achieve excellence.

Seek Feedback from Others

Practice humility and have a growth mindset. Growth is enabled by awareness. You cannot work on something you cannot see. Surround yourself with people you trust, who model the way themselves, and who will speak truth into your life.

According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

Take Time for Daily for Self-Reflection

As human beings, none of us is perfect—we are all a work in progress. Practicing humility means recognizing my progress will always be two steps forward, one step back. Having time set aside daily creates space for me to reassess and adjust along the way. It serves as a stopping point to gain clarity about my purpose and what is most important.

Focus on Incremental Growth

Finally, focus on progress, not perfection. Perfection is a form of prison thinking—it is a trap that ultimately keeps us stuck. A growth mindset frees me to focus on incremental growth. It frees me to be honest with myself. It also keeps me focused on learning through failure and using my failures to gain forward momentum. It is the same power of compound interest. Remember, a single penny doubled every day for 30 days will accumulate to $5,368,709.12. Small, positive habits built upon other positive habits have the same compound effect.

Work on your character daily, build these disciplines into habit, and watch your leadership influence skyrocket.


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Team Trek is a world-class provider of culture transformation solutions, leadership development, and team building.


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