Role models; many of us know one and many of us have been encouraged to be one. In fact, whether we know it or not, we are looked at by our peers and often newer or junior staff, held up and evaluated. We are in fact, good or bad, poor or great, positive or negative, something to emulate and aspire to be or a warning to avoid.
The thing about being a role model is that it comes with the job we choose. When we work at our best, get along with our fellow employees, perform positively, we may be cited and referred to as someone to watch and someone who conducts themselves in ways that are appreciated by our employers. And as I mentioned in the first paragraph, new staff may be encouraged to watch us, learn from us, spend time with us and take on many of the qualities and good attitude we have. All this in the hope that how we go about our work will rub off on the new employee and they’ll too become a good worker for the employer.
Now of course we have role models both within and beyond our workplaces. We may have a favourite athlete or singer, admire a politician, astronaut, philanthropist or humanitarian. What they stand for, how they conduct themselves in the face of adversity, how they rise to the top of their field, watching closely to see how they react to both victory and defeat, accolades and rejections; we can learn a lot about the people themselves. We may find ourselves wishing we could be more like them, maybe even going so far as to make changes in how we conduct ourselves because we were inspired by them.
So yes, we may have role models both within and beyond our workplaces. At work we might find ourselves admiring a co-workers ability to connect with others, their resilient nature, perhaps their willingness to pitch in and offer help every time there’s a need. We might admire their strength, focus, laughter, humbleness, optimism, attendance; even their smiling face. Ever had a co-worker who lights up the room and brightens your day just by being there?
So who does it for you? Who is the one person – or do you have a few people – you see as role models? What is it that inspires you about them? What qualities of character, what actions is it that they perform that draw you to them? Sometimes it can be that we admire in others that which we already have in ourselves. At other times we can admire someone precisely because they possess in large quantity that which we wish we had more of.
You’ll often hear many role models talk about their awareness of the responsibility that comes with the role they’ve taken on. When they underachieve, act poorly or make a poor decision that has a negative impact on both their personal image and that of the organizations they represent, they’ll often apologize and cite their need as a role model to do better. They may ask for forgiveness, and if they do it well, may even endear themselves in a greater way with those that hold them up as their role model.
So in addition to the question of who is your role model or role models, let me ask you a second question. Who are you are role model for? Who is looking up to you and inspired by how you conduct yourself? Who wants to be just like you?
Has it caught you by surprise at all that you – yes you reading this right now – you are a role model for others? And your status of a role model can come from many different places. You may find for example that you’re being observed and watched as a parent. Your child or children are modeling themselves based on how they perceive you as their mother or father. Do they themselves look up to you and want to be the kind of parent you are to them one day? Or you might be a model Aunt or Uncle, brother or sister. Maybe you’re in a musical group, book club, sewing circle, theatre company, etc. and there’s other’s who look to you for their own inspiration.
In the workplace, how you go about your work can be held up as an example of what others could or should aspire to. You may look around yourself and note the behaviour, attitude and actions of others that you admire and wish you could be just as good as or certainly better than you do typically. They may be ordinary, everyday people, not ever to get on television or star in a movie, lead an organization or become rich or famous. Just an everyday, common but inspiring role model.
So here’s you’re opportunity to give them a nod of thanks. To perhaps surprise them with your nomination as a positive role model. It takes only a moment or two to say a thing or two about them in the comments section. Who do you admire and why?
If you do take a moment – and I really hope you have the time to share their impact on you – be sure to share this piece with them. What a nice thing to do for someone you see as your personal role model.
So who and why?