We all have heard the phrase “do as I say not as I do” from a parent or teacher or coach or boss. This creates such a contradiction for the person hearing it, even a child. In the office this may not be explicitly said, however it is often implied. When the boss’s actions do not match corporate policy or even their own statements it tells the people observing that the boss is above the rules.
I’ve seen this where the company had a policy against taking favors or gifts from suppliers and yet senior executives went on expensive golf trips or to extravagant dinners at was hard for the people in the rank in file of the organization to follow the policy when it was obvious that the top people were not following those rules themselves. It created a culture of mistrust and selfishness because what was said and what was done were at odds with each other, so people tended to withdraw and look after themselves. The integrity of the company became questioned at times as the integrity of the individuals became more situational. The customers saw the shift in the culture of the company and started to step back.
As a leader it is important that the message your actions sends matches the message of the organization. If there are policies against accepting gifts and favors then you must obey that rule. Your team is watching you to determine what they should do. If your actions are aligned with policy they will follow suit. If your actions are in conflict with policy or you walk in the grey areas of the policy your team will as well.
The problem with skirting the rules in one area is that people will see you doing it and they will pick their area to skirt the rules. This can, and has, lead to disaster for organizations. Look at some of the biggest scandals in recent corporate history and you will see people out of control, who felt that the rules did not apply to them. Breaking the rules in anyway creates a slippery slope that can lead to bad decisions which cost the organization money and reputation.
You will be leading by example so make yours a great example. Be the type of employee you want working for you. Show your employees that you will do as you say and so will they.