Emiel Berg

Emiel Berg

“If you cannot change the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around.”

“If you lead by example, others will follow.” While this may seem like a truism, I firmly believe that leading by example remains the key to success when it comes to managing team members effectively and changing corporate strategies and achieving organisational change. What I know to be vital to this process are those passionate early followers who embrace the proposed change of strategy and lead by example themselves because they are following the right example.

I believe leaders are given only one opportunity to set the right example; to lead and to initiate change based on a new set of parameters. Since this has been proven time and again to be far from easy, successful and inspiring leaders invest in a “good story well told” in their quest for those all-important followers.

A combination of role model behaviour, a strong message and working hard together as a team to design a well-crafted strategy is the foundation for success when it comes to achieving new goals together. Meanwhile, remember to keep the lines of communication open with non-followers – and those who will come round eventually.

However, does the leader have what it takes to direct the change and set a good example, or does the entire team end up paying the price because the leaders should have changed a thing or two about themselves first? The fine line between success and failure tends to be rooted in the fast-changing context, with people setting the bar increasingly high and developing a need for other types of skills or experience.

The practice of successful leadership and change depends to a large extent on strong personal leadership (which is related to self-knowledge) and the ability to recognise whether your individual skills and experiences can still meet the challenges of the rapidly changing context. When success proves to be elusive, I tend not to talk in terms of ‘good’ or ‘poor’ leadership, but would rather conclude that the leadership style might not be as effective in today’s context. It’s a tough lesson to learn for many of today’s leaders, with their limited self-knowledge, and it’s further exacerbated by the phenomenon of ‘golden cages’.

And what if you’re convinced that you’re a good role model yet you have trouble attracting passionate followers? Well, in that case the following adage may hold true: “If you cannot change the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around”. If this resonates with you, why not drop in and meet one of the Volta consultants over a cup of coffee?