When we’re young and during challenging times, we all look to our role models for assurance and guidance. Role models are everywhere; they are found in your family, friends, social influencers, celebrities, community, and political leaders.
You may call them your mentors or ‘big brother or sister.’ The name is not so important. What role models do can be the difference between civility and mayhem.
Movements like the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, and pandemics like COVID-19 are life-changing, and our role models guide our actions, some positive and some negative, and this is where life is a balancing act.
Role Models In Business
It’s much the same in business, as we also need role models. From the top down, everyone needs a role model. Uncertainty within global and local economies can stir up feelings of apprehension and mistrust in the workplace.
If left unchecked, workers can give in to their insecurities and believe ‘they’re next in the firing line,’ i.e., it will be them out the door in a round of redundancies! Forget about worker productivity. It will nose-dive, too, without clear leadership, and this is where role models step up and provide reassurance.
Without adequate communication, positive affirmations, and confirmation that everything is being managed to the company’s best ability,
the workforce is left to their thoughts, and understandably they will fear the worst. If this sounds like the environment at your workplace, you can make a difference by becoming a role model. You don’t need to be high up the hierarchy; anyone can show empathy when it’s most needed.
What are the attributes of a good role model?
Good Role Model Traits
One false assumption is all leaders are good role models. We can all name leaders, particularly politicians, that are far from positive influencers in our lives, and we can not wait to see the back of them come to the next election!
So what should a good role model have in their soft skills toolkit?
According to the Seven Traits of a Role Model, you’d be expected to have these characteristics:
You will need an abundance of empathy in all your dealings that impact the lives of humanity. Acknowledging another person’s feelings does not mean you will stop what you’re doing or change your position, but you’re not bulldozing over them to get your way.
A thirst to know more and not being afraid to step outside their comfort zone to get it. Plus surrounding themselves with smart people and undertaking challenging tasks are all done to reach a goal.
Accept Mistakes Will Happen
Stretching the boundaries to achieve more does come with risk, and mistakes will be made. A good role model will be humble, accept responsibility for their errors, and move on, as it’s all part of growing and eventually reaching the right outcome.
Having the confidence to take action shouldn’t be confused with arrogance. A good role model needs the self-belief to step up and do what others can not do, i.e., lead and take responsibility for the actions of others and maybe the whole company.
Be Your Person
Being unique and living life your way gives you a unique perspective on your role as a leader and role model. Following the crowd will not develop your leadership skills; however, you will need to know how to be a supportive follower, as that is required of your workers, who will look to you for guidance and encouragement.
If you’re a loner, it will be harder for you to communicate with your followers. A genuine interest in your peers and people provides the opportunity to hone your communication skills. Take on leadership roles outside of work. Either with a community group, sports association, or something like a hobby or particular interest group, challenge yourself to take on positions of responsibility and commitment.
Everyone can be a role model; some people become one by accident, others by design. If you want to be a role model in your business, sharpen your skills and accept the challenge to make a difference in your life and work.