A bad manager doesn't lead by example

"Do as I say, not as I do" has long been the maxim of parents the world over.  But if an authority figure has one set of rules for themselves another for subordinates, it's not only hypocritical - it's unfair. Managers with double standards are bound to foster resentment.  And if employees are bitter, productivity suffers.

This extends to what's expected of different people within the business.  A less-than-average manager will tend to delegate the least appetising jobs - whether that's writing a particularly sticky pitch or emptying the bins.  Showing workers that you're prepared to muck in and do exactly what you occasionally ask others to, means that everyone feels more comfortable and less wary of hierarchy.

This more even playing-field also neatly avoids the pitfall that bad managers often fall into when they don't lead by example. Coming across as arrogant and unapproachable because you want to present a power-distinction between yourself and employees (rather than demonstrate how they should behave) prevents people from approaching you for help or wanting to follow in your footsteps.  Which are both things you should, of course, be striving for. 

Not leading by example also runs the risk of personal sloppiness when it comes to presentation, politeness and punctuality, which will seep into employees' attitudes.  Managers need to set the standard, so if you want them to be up to scratch, you need to be.  Same goes for work ethic - an unmotivated manager is hardly an inspiration, so put in the hours and keep up the good mood while you're at it. Employees learn a lot implicitly by observation, and acting as you want them to act teaches them how to improve.

There is one word of caution, however.  Don't act exactly as an employee would, or be over-familiar, as you don't want to lose sight of the boundary between employer and employee.  Lead by example, yes - but don't go so far as to play out the role they should be doing in order to win favour. Good managers are able to maintain authority, respect and admiration simultaneously.

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