I once worked for a lady who, when it came to picking up trash in her parking lot, maintained to me that the standard she stepped over was the standard she accepted. I had lost that quote for a while until, more recently, I had the chance to walk through a parking lot this summer with an intern who asked me why I stopped to pick up every piece of trash along the way.

He asked if we didn't have people to pick up trash instead of me. I said, in response, that indeed those people were us and me.

I thought of that earlier boss and her mentality around trash; in fact, it was probably a larger leadership mindset for detail-orientation and setting an powerful personal example--how could she set an example that she herself wasn't willing to demonstrate, knowing full well that the best leadership lesson is an example.

If nothing else, I remembered the example many years later when it came to my own situation. That's leadership--through our actions, we influence others. And we pick up the trash in the parking lot, too.

Clark Twiddy, President of Twiddy & Company, is the author of our Leadership Corner, published on our blog the third Tuesday of each month. He can be reached at ctwiddy@twiddy.com.