With leadership comes great responsibilities. A leader’s duty does not end with ensuring that the team meets the departmental or organisational goals. In managing a team, a manager needs to ensure that he/she adopts the correct approach, corrects mistakes and provides the requisite motivation, acknowledgement and encouragement to ensure the success of the team.
Therefore, the leader bares the responsibility of creating a healthy work environment for their team and is responsible for promoting both the personal and professional growth of the team through setting the correct standards for their attitudes, values and behaviours. By doing so, he/she becomes a workplace role model.
Workplace role models exhibit positive attitudes that people look up to. A role model is described as an individual whose successes and behaviours others try to emulate, or at the very least, look up to.
This concept can prove to be both easy or difficult for a leader. The easy part is the fact that the team or employees already look up to the leader for motivation and inspiration, however, the difficulty arises in ensuring that one meets the team’s expectations as well as ensuring that he/she becomes a positive rather than a negative role model.
The importance of leadership is based on the fact that at their core, businesses are comprised of people carrying out ideas. In making these ideas a success, the people need good leadership, such leadership is further enhanced through the leader being a good role model for their team.
This in no way means that the leader is expected to exhibit superhuman or flawless behaviour or traits. That being said, however, there are certain basic characteristics that are expected of a leader who is also a good role model.
Being a good leader does not entail for one to simply stand by the side-lines, while instructing the team regarding what to do or what not to do, without actually taking up any of the responsibilities or hard work required for the achievement of the organisational goals. Effective role models work hard and pitch in when their team needs help, always demonstrating a commitment to organisational goals. This attitude and behaviour promotes an environment of team work and collective action, inspiring the team to act in a similar manner.
This does not mean that for one to be a great leader they need to abandon their leadership responsibilities and role while taking on the tasks assigned to the team in an effort to ‘inspire them through working with them.’ A leader needs to strike the correct balance in this regard.
Role models demonstrate their commitment to a desired goal and are willing to invest the necessary time and effort in order to achieve success. They are resilient, don’t give up easily and persevere even when confronted with obstacles.
One cannot be a good role model without great communication skills. Role models are able to clearly explain their plans or the strategy of the organisation, yet they listen just as well as they express themselves. In communicating with others role models are always respectful towards all, regardless of the social standing of a person. They are able to show appreciation, admiration and gratitude when it is owed.
In the process of communicating and interacting well with the team, the leader and role model may be required to repeat messages in order to ensure proper understanding and alignment by the team. It is in this regard that consistency becomes vital.
It goes without saying that in order to be a good leader one needs to be skilled and knowledgeable, however good role models are not content with the status quo, but are always willing to learn more, challenge themselves and move outside of their comfort zones in a process of continuous development.
In order to be successful at this, the role model needs to have a good measure of self-esteem. In order for one to not only be a good teacher but to also be a good learner, they need to surround themselves with those who have greater knowledge than themselves, they need to understand and accept their shortcomings in order to be able to build on them and stretch themselves.
The ability and willingness to learn requires one to have a measure of humility. Humility enables a role model to understand that they cannot know everything, nor do everything right all of the time. Humility is a vital element in enabling the leader to recover, to learn and to teach others from their mistakes, without expecting them to fall into the same trap. They are also able to admit their mistakes without self-deprecating themselves.
A good role model is one who is able to take accountability for their actions and correct their course, in doing so, they are able to inspire others to do the same. Those lacking the ability to take accountability will always look for someone to blame whenever things go wrong and will most probably never learn from their mistakes.
The ability to take accountability stands a good leader well, as they work on building the trust amongst their team. A true leader and role model, models the positive behaviour which they expect from their team. In building trust, a leader or role model needs to follow every rule which they expect their team to follow. It is a classic case of “what is good for the gander, being good for the goose.” They need to lead with integrity because trust is earned, not given. A good role model is someone who is trustworthy, fair, honest, and consistent.
An important aspect of building trust in employees, or a team, is through empowering them with decision making abilities based on their skills and levels of accountability. Although the process of building trust in a team is not an overnight task, that long term project is always worth the time and effort invested, as it leads to a positive and healthy environment.
Great role models often stand out as they are not afraid to be unique, nor do they pretend to be who or what they are not. They embrace their uniqueness, even in the face of ridicule, especially from those who do not align with who they are.
Truly great workplace models do not stop being role models after office hours or outside of the work environment, they are also role models outside of the work environment. These are individuals who are able to give back to the community through volunteer work or some other public service in their spare time.
True role models are those who possess the qualities that we would like to have, and those who affect us in a way that inspires us to be better people. They contribute to our growth and progress. They help to pave the way for us to take the lead on the issues that we truly believe in.
Through practicing the traits of successful people, you too can inspire and motivate your team and those around you.
Being a boss may be easy, but being a leader and a positive role model can be challenging, although not impossible!