Lead From the Front

examples of leading from the frontOne of the ways great leaders demonstrate passion for their vision and strategies is by being “front and center.” Whether times are good or bad, rolling along smoothly or roughly, these leaders remain visible and engaged in the process. They have the wisdom to know that if they hide from their challenges or remain consistently detached from their people, the consequences can be detrimental. Just like with these leaders, your people are always watching to see how front and center you are. What they’re always wondering to themselves is: How much do you really care? Disciplining yourself to be true to them, consistently remaining front and center, will build their buy-in, create greater commitment, and win their critical loyalty.

Here are several examples of how leading from the front can help:

Create buy-in for your vision. If you have a dream, say to merge two companies into one, great organization, you’re going to need buy-in because your staff might not be on board. That’s exactly what happened in one of my former companies, where the new boss came in and wanted to merge our regional companies into one national “powerhouse” company. At first, people pushed back. But this boss was passionate about his vision. Every chance he got, and every time he spoke to his people either casually or formally, he talked about his vision, painted the picture of his dream, and never stopped believing. His same message was in everything he said and did — and he was also very present, regularly engaged and refreshingly proactive with his employees. Eventually, he got a few people on board, then gradually everyone converted and became open to this new idea. Always invested and involved (yet not meddlesome!) in what was going on with his employees, this guy earned serious trust and respect. Then naturally, most of the people soon trusted in his vision, too.

Deal effectively with a crisis. No one likes to think about national tragedies. But they happen, and when they do, it’s “make or break time” for the leaders living in the area in which those tragedies took place. Think about the recent bombings in Boston. What did the city’s mayor do? Well, he wasn’t hiding in fear. He wasn’t even recovering in a hospital bed even though he was among the injured. In true leadership form, Thomas Menino wheeled himself out of the hospital and got front and center. He got to work healing and fighting for the community. That day, if people didn’t love him already, he won the hearts of many and set a stellar example of how to rise to the challenge with grace. He was clearly present, invested and involved in demanding resolution.

Manage change. Rare is the person who likes change. And that’s why so many bosses struggle with implementing it with employees successfully. But it is done and can be done — if you remember to remain front and center, educating people about why the change is taking place, modeling the change you want to see in others, talking about results with passion and excitement, and rewarding those who both embrace and do well with it.

What are some other great examples of “front and center” leadership?

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