15 Ways to Set a Positive Example as a Manager

“I’m not a role
model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your

– Charles Barkley

When you’re a manager, like it or not, you ARE a role model.
All eyes are on you. The example you set has an enormous impact on your direct
report employees and those around you. If you are a newly promoted or hired
manager, your employees will watch, listen, and learn about what matters to
you, what’s important, what to do and what not to do. If you’ve been a manager
in the same role for a while, they already have learned, and the norms you’ve
perhaps unconsciously established are more powerful than that “Our Company
Values” poster on the wall.

In addition to influencing your employee’s behavior and
attitudes through your day-to-day behaviors, you’re also having an impact on their
long term development. We all learn powerful leadership lessons from the
examples – both positive and negative – from current and former managers.

Do you want your employees to conduct themselves with the
highest level of professionalism? You may want to review following list and ask
yourself the following questions:

Is this what I would expect and want from my employees? Am I
setting the right example? What kind of lessons am I teaching?

Note: none of the items on the list below are made up – all are
from the Great Leadership files of actual manager behaviors. Hopefully not my

1. Arrive to work and meetings on time, and don’t make a
habit of leaving early.

2. Pay attention to your own development. Be a humble and
continuous learner, and be transparent about your development needs and what
you are doing to overcome them.

3. Ask for feedback – be open to it and listen – and be
willing to give caring, constructive, and frank feedback to others.

4. Be open to change – especially when the change isn’t your
own idea. When a change is announced, employees will be looking at you to see
how they should react.

5. Don’t participate in gossip, spreading rumors, or
speaking poorly about your boss, fellow managers, or about another one of your

6. Be discreet and respect confidences.

7. Keep your non-work related business to a minimum. And don’t
ask your employees to assist with your non-work related business (i.e., picking
up your clothes at the drycleaner).

8. Treat everyone – regardless of their level or degree of
influence – with respect.

9. Tell the truth – be a straight shooter, with no white
up to your own mistakes

10. Keep the cynicism and sarcasm to a minimum. It poisons
the work environment.

11. Maintain a sense of humor – about yourself – but never
at the expense of others.

12. Pitch in and lend a hand doing the dirty work now and

13. Watch your language – with few exceptions, don’t swear.
I don’t care what
say – there’s no place for F-bombs in the vocabulary of a professional

14. Don’t lavish yourself or your management team with perks
that are off-limits to the rank and file.

15. Maintain a professional distance from your employees – you
are their manager, not their friend

While you may not agree with every item on the list, wouldn’t
you prefer to work for a manager who follows most of them?