If you are a leader, the example you set means everything.
Because it is the people in charge who have the responsibility for setting the priorities for those who work for them and also for shaping the environment in which they will do so. It is the people in positions of leadership who, by their policies and example, provide both the official and unspoken guidance that the people who work for them will follow in determining how they will act. Even when the boss is away - the cultural landscape they establish remains in effect.
In business, it's called "corporate culture". And it plays a massive role in how successful an organization can be. Especially during times of adversity, when challenges can become overwhelming in the absence of a solid organizational culture that can deal with them in a coherent, competent fashion.
As a case study of how important that aspect of leadership is and how much it is missed when it is lacking, let's consider a day in 2014 when the news of the death of 295 people aboard a Malaysian Airlines 777 commercial airliner became known around 11:30 AM EDT and how U.S. President Barack Obama handled it.
Here, we observe a large degree of disengagement on the part of President Obama that day, particularly after the news of the tragedy had become widespread. The White House press pool traveling with President Obama on that fateful day offered the following tidbit nearly an hour and a half after the news first broke:
At approximately 12:50 pm, the motorcade stopped at the Charcoal Pit, a popular, established restaurant just north of Wilmington, Del. Known for its burgers and sundaes. Obama shook hands and mingled with many of the diners, stopping at one point to pick up seven-month old Jaidyn Oates, and pose for a photo.
He invoked Vice Presiident [sic] Biden’s name a few names, noting to some diners, “Me and Joe, we share shakes all the time,” and to others, “Biden told me the burgers are pretty good.”
Just before hugging another young girl, whose mother lifted her across the booth to hug the president, Obama asked, “Do you give good hugs?”
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