During my early days in the Indian Police Service, I was once accompanying a senior officer to a police station for an inspection. While on the way, in the car, this officer was talking about the importance of discipline and timeliness.
But ironically, while we were talking about punctuality, we were running late for the parade. When I gently pointed this out, he said, “Senior officers have many responsibilities they can’t avoid. You can’t say that junior officers will do something only if the senior does it.”
Whether you hold punctuality important is not the point. In my opinion, the real question is — are you willing to hold yourself to the same standards as your subordinates?
If you want your juniors to face a violent mob, are you willing to stand in the front? If you expect your team to do a late-night slog, are you willing to also forgo your sleep? If you preach integrity and honesty, do you display the same?
If the answer is yes, then you are a leader. If not, you are just a high-ranking manager.