Be a Role Model

"Do as I say, not as I do" is not a sound practice for people in leadership positions. As the head of a team, group, or large organization, you are the most visible representative of your team—both within and outside your group. Leaders often expect high quality out of employees and expect them to perform to certain standards without applying those same standards to themselves. Remember, being a leader does not make you exempt from work, fairness, or ethics. In fact, these qualities become even more important as you are looked to as an example.


Tip Mixed messages occur when you say one thing but your actions reveal a different truth. For example, you say you value honesty, but an employee catches you in a lie.

Some of the valued behaviors for role models include the following:

  • A leader should not shy away from work. If you know your employees will need to ignore the clock and work extra hours to get the job done, show your employees that you, too, are not afraid to stick around the office after hours. This example will communicate to your staff that you are committed to getting the job done, no matter how much overtime it means.

  • A leader should also be aware of the kind of business the entire organization and the specific unit is engaged in. For example, leaders are often chosen because of their leadership abilities, not because they are specialists in a given business. Smart leaders make it their business to become specialists once they are on the job.

  • Communication cannot be stressed too much. Today's professional has available so many different ways of communicating: traditional mail, the telephone, e-mail, instant messages, and good old one-on-one conversations. Show your employees that you are equally comfortable using several different communication media. A leader who confines his communication to e-mail could be perceived as cold and distant.

  • A leader must also possess a certain amount of care and concern for his group members. Have respect for your team; remember that not every day is a good day.

  • As mentioned previously, integrity is the foundation of any leader's ability to garner respect. As a leader, you have a responsibility to deal honestly and fairly with your subordinates. Employees owe a boss loyalty and obedience; however, respect is a quality that can only be earned.