Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Who do you want to be when you grow up? If you ask a 7-year-old child they can answer that immediately. Yes, it might change on a daily basis, but right then, in that moment, they know exactly who they want to be like.
And yet, when I ask the question of leaders they often struggle to name who their role models are.
Last week, in the final session of a 6-month leadership training program, I asked the up-and-coming leaders of a financial-services organization who their role model was. I'd been harping on about the importance of role models for months so it was no surprise that they could all name someone. The surprise was that half the room all named the same person, albeit for different reasons. And they're lucky enough that she's one of their senior leaders so they get to see her in action (trust me, many never have that luxury).
Are you the leader that others want to be like?
You are a role model, whether you like it or not. The only question is whether you’re being a good one today.
We are all in leadership positions in one way or another. Whether it’s a formal role at work (a title only gives us positional power, which is worthless without personal power), at home (even if the stroppy teenagers think they’re all grown up), or in your community (physical or virtual). Others are watching you and taking your lead.
Reflect on your actions over the last 48 hours - would you be proud of yourself if those actions were broadcast in the latest reality TV show, straight into the living rooms of all those you care about? Or would you feel that you had to turn to your loved ones and justify yourself?
And yes, this includes social media. It’s a whole lot easier to be brave when you don’t have to look someone in the eye. Do you tend to leave snarky comments or stick to the high ground? Ask yourself what you would want your children to see you post?
We're all human. We have good days and bad days and we all have certain situations or individuals who trigger us.
Take a minute to think about the behaviors you want to model for others. How would you like others to describe you? Peace, love and serenity? Take-no-crap badass? Those two are not mutually exclusive and very often the difficulty lies in finding the middle ground.
Take a minute to write down three words you'd like others to describe you as. Are you modeling those behaviors?
It is through our actions, when aligned with our words, that we become great leaders and role models.
Here are just 10 of the many ways you can lead by example:
1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps others on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth. Taking responsibility boosts your credibility and advances your reputation.
2. Be truthful. Show that honesty really IS the best policy. Even when that means owning up to your mistakes or delivering bad news. Even tough messages can be delivered with tact and diplomacy. Remember, honesty without tact is cruelty.
3. Be courageous. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary. Taking baby steps and calculated risks demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
4. Acknowledge failure. Admitting your own mistakes makes it OK for others to admit theirs. Define failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary. Learn, adjust where necessary and do better next time.
5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define you.
6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems. Instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask others for their ideas.
7. Listen. Steven Covey points out that most of us aren’t listening, we are just waiting to speak. Make sure you are truly listening to understand and ask questions. You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
8. Do what you said you would do. When you say one thing but do another, you erode trust. And without trust, nobody is going to believe in you. This also applies to yourself. Do you keep the promises you make to yourself?
9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, find work/life balance (whatever that means to you right now), take a break, learn to say no once in a while. Mental and physical balance is key to being your best. Model it, encourage it, support it!
10. Be kind. Whatever the situation, be a role model for kindness. The world needs more of that.
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Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Whatever the situation, be a role model for kindness. The World needs more of that.