Set the example, define the path, achieve the journey

Every year, I run a 5K on Mother’s Day with my daughter. I recall many years of encouraging her along the way, setting the pace and helping her finish strong. This year, however, things changed.

As we approached the race’s notoriously steep hill, I groaned in anticipation of the challenging climb ahead. This time my daughter provided the encouragement, “You can do it mom. This is the fun part.” She gave me inspiration — at the exact time I needed it most — to climb that hill with a positive, can-do attitude.

To me, that’s what leadership is — helping people to find the grit, determination and motivation within themselves so they can successfully achieve their journey.

Lead by example

When you want someone to follow you, you need to go there yourself.

I recall a time early in my career when my team needed to work over the weekend. One of the programmers didn’t want to give up his weekend so I told him I would finish his part of the project. When Saturday morning rolled around, I was surprised to see him at the office.

I asked him what changed his mind, and his answer was simple: “If you are coming in, then I will too.” I had no idea my actions would have this effect. It was a valuable lesson that people follow what you do and not always what you say.

Define a clear path forward

Many journeys are filled with obstacles along the way and it is easy to veer off track. Leaders set clear boundaries for what needs to be done.

This is an aspect of leadership where I sometimes need support. When I struggle with what the right next steps are, my boss is there to listen and give me immediate feedback on what’s most important. Within minutes, I have the confidence to move forward.

Make the journey an amazing experience

I coached a youth basketball team that rose from the bottom of the rankings to go on to win the league championship. The critical part of their journey, however, wasn’t about winning. It was about growing as a team, improving their skills, supporting each other and having fun.

Create an inspirational vision

I work for a company that has a noble mission — no one will ever have to wait for the care they need. Recently, our leader asked two of the caregivers on our team what five minutes meant to them. Both told a story about the critical impact those five minutes had on a loved one who needed care.

That exercise drives home how important it is to build a vision and how it’s just as important to be reminding and reinforcing it with team members.

We all have the power to be leaders — just like we all have the power to learn from the leaders we admire. Think about what you can do each day to lead by example, define the path forward, make the journey an amazing experience and deliver an inspirational vision.


Diane Watson is the COO of TeleTracking. Diane is responsible for TeleTracking’s services organization, which includes its client delivery team. She has a wealth of experience in consulting, information technology and general management. Her background includes the position of CIO at Medrad, a medical device manufacturer, as well as a long tenure at Andersen Consulting, currently Accenture.