Posted on Monday, 31 March 2014 in Leadership

A good leader truly leads by example: a case study

Paul B. Brown recently blogged about how the best leaders model the behaviour they want. The article, posted recently on, pointed out that employees spend a great deal of time observing the behaviour of their bosses. Moreover, what a boss does is just as important as what he says, if not more so. 


Brown provides an example of a workforce in a car dealership he once visited. The dealership  had been run by the same family for generations and  significantly dominated the car market in the region. The owner himself was described as a quietly charming man who was seldom known to raise his voice. 


Car dealerships are by nature busy places, and fender benders are an occupational hazard as cars are moved around the show room floor and readied for delivery. The rule at this particular dealership was that customers must be made aware of any damage that had occurred.


 On one occasion, a high end luxury vehicle was being prepared for collection when it was bumped by the salesperson driving it, and the corner back bumper was damaged. The car was quickly repaired and once again in perfect condition by the time the new owner arrived to collect. And since the damage was not visible to the naked eye, the new owner was not informed about what had happened. 


However, when the owner of the dealership arrived and heard the story, he uncharacteristically lost his temper, gathering every employee on the floor into his office and using some unforgettable language. He stressed that this incident was the complete opposite of the way his dealership does business. He then outlined that the customer has the right to be informed of any damage, regardless of how minor, and subsequently to make the decision whether or not to proceed with the deal or get a credit for another car.


That was 16 years ago and to this day, the incident has never been repeated. 


Indeed, every good leader understands the power and importance of good communication. And yes, communication is important. That said, so is behaviour. As a leader, you’re studied much more than you think. This means every action you take is vitally important – rest assured it will not go unnoticed by your employees.


Paul B. Brown is the co-author of ‘Just start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty and Create the Future’


To read the full article, click here.

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