— 4 min read

Leading by example is generally thought to be a great leadership strategy. However, it might not be as effective when handling generations Y and Z.

The next 10 years are going to require new leadership styles. A leader needs to be even more adaptive and smart and stay ahead of the ever-increasing speed of technological evolution.

Bill Gates on leadership


Leading by example is based on an idea that, to a large extent, the way you act and behave in the presence of your employees will dictate exactly how motivated they are. And it works. But millennials and younger generations need more.

Millennials need more interaction and engagement. As Heather Hiles puts it, "They want deeper feedback and assessment, with an eye toward holistic personal development and multiple options. They hold strong expectations that they will be immediately rewarded for their hard work."

They are creative and oriented to solving problems. So instead of giving them an exemplary way of doing things, they should be allowed to figure things out themselves. And when they do, they should be praised.

This level of engagement has not been implemented enough in America's work culture. Gallup.com found out that only one in three employees is engaged at any given time. The problem boils down to interaction between manager and a worker – leader and the employee.

I'm not saying, leaders shouldn't do everything in their power to be an example to their people. They should. But too often business owners take one buzzword-heavy leading strategy and think, this is it.

A modern leader

A modern leader adapts to employees, he sets a good example and engages the needs of the workforce.

Best way to do it is to embrace modern communication technologies to get everything out of your internal communications. At the moment bad internal communications cost companies $37 billion a year. The fault lies mostly in the companies who keep to the 20th century business models familiar and homely to baby boomers and Generation X.

This is where mere leading by example wont help you. Unless you are the only employee in the company, you'll need  to set up a strong two-way communication system. You must also make sure the system serves your needs and is used by everyone (including you).

There are a lot of tools for communication that can be used to address the specific need of any company. From progress reporting and project management to virtual networks – today there's an app for anything that could help a leader save money.

Throwing money at problems

Saving money is important to everyone. Sometimes it may feel that solutions drain money without giving you a good return of investment. But the reason is more often than not, the fact that wrong tools are used or they are not implemented.

This is another mistake that has often been made. Throwing money at the problem wont work if you are not willing to spend some of your precious time on making sure your employees are actually effectively using the tools you have provided them with.

So a modern leader doesn't so much lead by example put lead by adapting. You adapt to your workforce, give them an example they need and reward them for their hard work.