Vail Daily column: Leading by example |

Vail Daily column: Leading by example

If you are like me, you really enjoy it when you can see a leader leading by example. There are some who lead their families, others lead companies or teams, and still others lead communities, organizations and associations. And yet the ones we seem to respect the most are not the ones who lead from afar, or give direction from the ivory tower, the ones we seem to gravitate toward are the leaders who lead from the front.

In my line of work, I have been truly blessed to have worked for leaders, coaches and trainers who have led by example. Men and women of character and integrity who wouldn’t ask others to do anything that they weren’t prepared to do themselves. I honestly believe that I would not have achieved success in both my personal life or my professional life had it not been for the leaders in the companies I worked for, the leaders who worked with me when I was the CEO or president, the leaders in my church and the leaders in my community. And I say thank you to each one of them.

So as you can see, I have a great appreciation for active, intentional leadership.

If you are into history, one leader who led from the front and truly led by example comes to mind, George Washington. If you haven’t read any of the books written about him, the book “1776,” by David McCullough, is a great place to start. But I digress, so let me get back to our story.

As I said, one of my very favorite things to observe is when managers, leaders, business owners, fathers, mothers or others who are in a leadership role lead by example and we get to see it and witness their behavior. If we are smart enough, we may even try and emulate that behavior. And I have a recent story I would like to share with you about someone who truly leads by example.

Her name is Nina Hinnendael.

I happened to be skiing in Beaver Creek and had the opportunity to see for myself how Nina worked and led by example. She is a manager of a couple of on-mountain restaurants and actually the one person who inspired the Candy Cabin at the top of the Strawberry Park lift, Chair 12 in Beaver Creek. Her attitude, smile and work ethic speak for themselves. And as I sat there as a patron, I was so impressed by the fact that even as a leader and a manager, she was cleaning tables, greeting customers, socializing with guests and directing her staff all at the same time, I had to ask her permission to write this column.

You see, I am also a leader. I have a staff, I work in my community, I volunteer and I get so caught up in my responsibilities that I often forget that I should also be leading by example and manage and lead like Nina, doing some more of the heavy lifting.

Now, if we focus on you, yes you. You the business owner, you the vice president, you the venture capitalist, you the manager, you the leader of your family — are you leading by example or are you relying solely on what you accomplished in the past? That is one of the challenges that we have, managers and leaders who have met with success but have forgotten what got us there in the first place … hard work, character and effort. And we know that talent without effort breeds mediocrity.

How about you? Are you a Nina? Do you lead from the front and by example? I would love to hear all about it at goto, and when we remember what leadership is all about, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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