Chances are, at some point you’ve worked with a leader whose example is still with you today. Maybe it was a leader who showed confidence when everyone else was frazzled, who stayed calm under intense pressure. Or a boss who deftly handled whiners and complainers, or a mentor whose patient guidance set you on the path you’re still following.
Whatever their role, these are the people who know that who they are is as important as what they do. For them, setting a positive example is an integral element of leadership, a part of their life and work every day.
So what kind of example are you setting? Whether you’re aware of it or not, your actions and attitudes are being watched. You’re setting an example, modeling acceptable behavior to others.
How can you tell if you’re setting an example people can look up to? Here are some traits the best role models share:
They lead with self-awareness. The best role models reflect honestly and productively on their own behavior and the impact they have on others. They consider the needs and feelings of others, they’re responsible for their actions and accountable for their mistakes, and, most important, they pay attention to how their words and actions affect others.
They lead with positivity. Great role models know that no one can be cheerful all the time, but they look for opportunities in difficult situations and face challenges with resilience and energy. They inspire those around them with their positivity and optimism.
They lead with empathy. Part of being a role model is tuning in to the feelings of those around you. It means meeting people where they are and relating to them with kindness, compassion, and understanding. At the heart, it’s as simple as acknowledging our shared humanity.
They lead with humility. The best role models are humble enough to be honest when they’re not sure about something. They’re supportive when you need help, sincere when others are manipulative, and modest when others are showing off. Those who lead with humility are at their best when they’re encouraging others to succeed.
They lead with integrity. Great role models enter every situation with their good character, morals, and principles firmly in place. They don’t preach; they don’t have to. They know their values and use them as the basis of their choices, and they have the decency to do the right thing even when it’s difficult.
They lead with trust. Leaders with consistent character—the ones who “walk their talk”—develop an atmosphere of accountability and responsibility. And those elements form the foundations of trust. A commitment to building and earning trust is one of the most important elements of a great team.
They lead with respect. Many people aspire to impressive titles in an effort to get others to respect them. But the best roles model understand that you earn respect through the way you treat others. They give respect, and in turn they receive it.
They lead with honesty. People will naturally look up to you if they can count on you to tell the truth, however difficult or awkward it may be. This includes telling the truth about yourself, the mistakes you’ve made, and the places where your judgment has faltered. Your people will appreciate and emulate your transparency
Whether you want to be or not, unless you live alone in a cave you’re probably somebody’s role model. That makes it important for each of us to remember that people learn more from what we do than what we say, more from what we are than what we teach.
Lead from within. Whether you choose to be or not, you are a role model—so watch your words and be mindful of your actions, because people are looking at each other to be inspired.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
THE LEADERSHIP GAP
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.