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Are You The Role Model You Think You Are?

“Don’t do as I do, do as I say”

We’ve all heard about leaders and managers being the role models for those around them. The same is written about celebrities and sports stars having such an influence on their fans, particularly their younger fans. Modelling the behaviour we expect from those around us is both obvious and difficult at the same time. So why is this and what can those in senior positions in businesses do about it?

Being A Role Model Is Difficult

Well, it isn’t if you take the approach that you are who you are and others have to accept that, including the good and the not so good that goes with it. Of course some senior managers and leaders do take this approach and would say that this individualistic style is what makes them unique. That’s true but it doesn’t acknowledge any appreciation of how others are impacted by their behaviours and actions. My experience is that most senior manager and leaders, while not consciously thinking about how they are coming across to others, do appreciate that “how they are” does have an impact.

Difficulties can come about when employees, taking the lead from their bosses, start behaving in a manner that is deemed inappropriate in some way. It’s not easy for senior managers to deal with this when they know in their heart of hearts that this is what is known as the norm in the business. It can be a wakeup call for senior manager and leaders too if they are open to recognizing that what they are seeing in others as undesirable, is in fact a mirror image of themselves.

When changes have to happen is another instance when being that role model is difficult. It could be for any reason, to improve the culture and performance of the business or possibly as a result of an acquisition when a “new way of working” has to be adopted. Breaking old habits and learning new ones is never easy and when the added pressures of significant change are added to the mix it can become almost impossible for some people to keep up the façade all the time.

Why façade you might ask? Well, I see it as a façade or an act when people are doing their best to appear to be doing things differently and doing their utmost to re-wire years of learnt behaviour, learnt behaviour that has worked for them. At times of great pressure or even stress, that façade can break and the real inner-self comes out, and not always in a positive or professional way. Hardly the role model they are striving to be.

How To Be A Role Model

You might want to keep up the appearance of the ideal manager or leader that you want others in the business to recognize and adopt as “the way things are done round here”. Equally, you could be deliberately modifying how you operate and want others to identify with that. Either way there are a number of actions that can help you in staying true to your ideal “model” self:

  1. Consider what three attributes or characteristics you want people to recognize you for and how you will live them on a daily basis in ALL your interactions.

  2. Work out what the opposites of each of those three characteristics are and make a conscious effort to cut them out of your behaviour and actions.

  3. Reflect at the end of each week on how you have performed in terms of the three characteristics you want the model in your business. Was it easy? Do you think others noticed? Did you notice any changes in other people’s behaviour and did you spot others adopting similar behaviours?

The thing about role modeling is that it’s something we all do all the time. Others are influenced by how we act and what we do; it’s only human nature. When we are making a conscious effort to promote particular behaviours and ways of working it’s incumbent on those in positions of authority to take the lead. Over time, others will follow.

Copyright © 2013 Paul Slater

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