Leaders Set The Example

By David McCuistion

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

The progression from student to the first job, applying experience to problem-solving, followed by increased responsibility, then being somewhat relied upon in your department and the next thing. You’re a junior manager – welcome to the early stages of leadership!

The transition where you go from reporting to everyone and then having someone report to you is a massive change.

We all have our struggles, yet solving and overcoming those struggles adds to our experience and allows us to grow and take on greater challenges with more responsibility.

Set the Example

What I’ve experienced in my career is internal mental and emotional growth. In the beginning, I wasn’t quite mentally there! I was not cracking under pressure or going crazy. But I was doing the same as I was before. I was turning up, working hard, and taking a few breaks.

Is that what a leader does?

No. Leaders set an example. Leaders manage time. Leaders are looked up to. Leaders delegate. I was still doing everything myself. Isn’t that why I did all that ‘junior’ work in the first place? I was good at it, and my manager wasn’t.

The answer is that I was simply ‘led’ by a leader in the best way to achieve the results that had been set for them. It’s not an easy style to replicate, but attempting to ‘lead with love’ will have better results than the ‘iron fist’ approach!

Driven by Experience

We, humans, feed off each other in the sense that colleagues who see us get promoted will adopt different expectations of us. If those expectations aren’t met, it can give rise to conflict. Then we soon need to learn conflict management. This is all part of the early leadership skills growth cycle, driven by experience.

While you grapple with delegation, one does realize that you need to lead the team (even if that is only one person) and recognize that your leadership skills have to evolve.

Familiarize yourself with the new tasks that your leadership role has bestowed upon you and seek to train your team to do the tasks that you used to do. Delegating, leading, conforming to expectations, and growing your leadership skill set is part of your new role.

With that evolution, we face the confusion of getting our heads around the change from junior to senior or assistant to the manager. It’s harder than you think.

The culture is different. Colleagues that were friends can become distant as your name appears higher on the organization chart (which is probably ‘politically’ structured to keep everyone happy!).

We’re not designed to change overnight. We actually evolve over the years. But what we can do is reassess our circumstances and apply ourselves accordingly.

X, Y, and Z

I’ve since discovered the ability to think more strategically. It really isn’t that hard because we do it in a natural sense, i.e., park the car in the garage, get out of the car, and lock the car. By contrast, we don’t (ordinarily) park cars in the garage or lock cars. We just compartmentalize.

For example, an objective is achieved by the sum of certain results – revenue of ‘X’ requires quotes of ‘Y’ and conversion of ‘Z.’

As a leader, we delegate the responsibilities of identifying and achieving X, Y and Z while retaining the overall management, guidance, and results in responsibilities.

Of course, those dealing with X, Y, and Z are your specialists (the only ones that can do the work, such as you lead them). The bottom line is as the new leader; it is up to you to set your team up to win. And in doing so, you earn your new position.

As a Leader, How Do You Set The Example?

If you have ideas about how you set the example that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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David McCuistion
David McCuistion
David is a retired Naval Officer with extensive leadership and management experience including Officer-in-Charge of a major communication facility, in secondary education teaching leadership, and over five years public speaking on Servant Leadership and organizational development topics.
  • Greg Martin says:

    David – Good post. I really liked you analogy on how to think strategically. Most new leaders struggle with the transitioning into a leadership role. It can be especially challenging when it is your peers you once “hung out” with and know you have a responsibility to lead them.

  • Tim Cummuta says:


    Great post!

    It is interesting how individuals change how they relate to people as those people move up in the ladder. A colleague of mine who was a lawyer when elected to be a judge told me that most of the professional relationships he had enjoyed went away once he was elected. He felt he had not changed. However, everyone else’s perception of him had. This may seem somewhat of an extreme scenario but not in the judge’s eyes. He was rather disappointed.

  • David Clarke (Indemnity Dave) says:

    Dear Greg & Tim,

    Thanks for your excellent comments – I can see that you have both experienced the ‘transition’ to Leader and I love the example of Lawyer to Judge!! Yes a little extreme but a perfect example.

    Thanks Again,


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