Model what Matters (Leadership Practice 1)

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program runner Capt. Kelly Calway of Fort Carson, Colo., finishes second among women in the 2010 Army Ten-Miler with a time of 57 minutes, 10 seconds on Oct. 24 at the Pentagon. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs, Flickr

All-Army runners take top trophy … U.S. Army, Tim Hipps , Flickr

Last week, I provided an overview of 9 Effective Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works. The 9 effective leadership practices highlight various dimensions of servant leadership that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

Beginning with Authentic Leaders

The first grouping of servant leadership practices presented in the model emphasize the importance of beginning with authentic leaders who are able to foster collaboration. In this first cluster of servant leadership practices, leadership behaviors associated with effective teams include: (1) modeling what matters, (2) engaging in honest self-evaluation, and (3) fostering collaboration.

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

In this post, we will spend time briefly unpacking the first leadership practice: Modeling what Matters.

Modeling what matters is similar to the leadership practices that other researchers have identified as well. Bass and Avolio engaged the concept of “idealized influence” associated with transformational leadership theory. Kouzes and Posner engaged the concept of “model the way” as a key practice exemplary leadership.

Inauthentic leaders can demand of followers what they as leaders are unwilling to do. Authentic leaders, however, must model what matters and be willing to “practice what they preach” when it comes to expected organizational behavior.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

On this point, research participants noted that modeling what matters “is the primary and most effective way to communicate the organization’s mission, values, and ethos,” and that “actions communicate much more loudly than words” when it comes to organizational values.

Reinforcing the importance of this leadership practice, Max De Pree argues that “clearly expressed and consistently demonstrated values” are often the most important factor in facilitating the important relationship between leaders and followers.

Model what Matters for Your People

While it may be tempting to just dictate or tell followers what to do, the best leaders understand the importance of action. Leader behaviors provide a powerful example for followers. Are we modeling what matters when it comes to expected organizational behavior?

Leaders don’t just use words in their communication. Leaders communicate, for better or for worse, through their actions. So leader, be sure to model what matters for your community. Allow your actions to provide a crystal clear message that is consistent with your words and calls followers to a higher level of engagement with your organization’s mission.


Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability


Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

11 thoughts on “Model what Matters (Leadership Practice 1)

  1. Pingback: Model what Matters (Leadership Practice 1) | lizstincelli

  2. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

  3. Pingback: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation (Leadership Practice 2) | Purpose in Leadership

  4. Pingback: Fostering Collaboration (Leadership Practice 3) | Purpose in Leadership

  5. Pingback: 9 Effective Leadership Practices | Purpose in Leadership

  6. Pingback: Valuing and Appreciating People (Leadership Practice 4) | Purpose in Leadership

  7. Pingback: Creating a Place for Individuality (Leadership Practice 5) | Purpose in Leadership

  8. Pingback: Understanding Relational Skills (Leadership Practice 6) | Purpose in Leadership

  9. Pingback: Communicating with Clarity (Leadership Practice 7) | Purpose in Leadership

  10. Pingback: Supporting and Resourcing Followers (Leadership Practice 8) | Purpose in Leadership

  11. Pingback: Providing Accountability (Leadership Practice 9) | Purpose in Leadership

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