Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.
~Rosabeth Moss Kanter
As the chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, Rosabeth Moss Kanter has worked with leaders at all levels and across all industries. Her quote indicates the importance of leaders being role models for upcoming leaders in any company or organization. Being a role model is about modeling and embodying the values, attributes, and behaviors that are important for success.
Being a role model is not about being perfect. In fact, watching how a role model handles mistakes, accepts constructive criticism, strives for personal and professional growth, and addresses problems and challenges is one of the best learning opportunities for new or aspiring leaders.
To become an effective role model, there are several things that any leader needs to know and practice. Again, it is not about being perfect; it is about constantly moving forward to get closer and closer to your goals that defines a role model’s impact on an individual and an organization.
Know Your Values
Knowing what you value and how you demonstrate those values in your day-to-day activities and interactions with others is critical to being an effective leader and role model. Take the time to determine what you value and how that value is demonstrated in what you do.
This exercise may be simple, but it often highlights areas where leaders believe one thing, but are acting in a different way. For example, do you value innovation but is the ability to develop creative solutions stifled in the company? Do you value open communication but rarely have the time to talk to team members?
Bringing values, actions, and behaviors into alignment is a key part of being a role model in a leadership position.
Walk the Walk
One of the overlooked aspects of being a role model is the grassroots level of what you do. Yes, employees and team members look to you in times of challenge and success. However, what you do when the spotlight is not shining often signals what you offer as a leader.
Being consistent, clear, and aware of what you are doing and why it is being done is important as a role model. It is also essential to embody what you expect of others.
Share your personal growth, lifelong learning, or use of training and resources with others. In being open to sharing that journey, you create a culture where people constantly strive to be their best at all levels throughout the organization.