Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Being a Role Model....

Companies can define what competencies they want leaders to have but unless people actually live up to and demonstrate the desired attributes, behaviours and competencies then it doesn't really mean a thing.

Part of developing into a successful leader is identifying key role models (both in your own organisation and outside it) and to examine what they are actually doing. How are they behaving? How are they interacting with others? What are they actually doing? Be as specific as you can and then see if you can apply it yourself. Also take note of what isn't working and examine why.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Why do (or don't) people do what you ask them to do?

2) Why do (or don't) you do what people ask you to do?

It's also useful to think of yourself as a role model for other people. This helps raise your awareness around everything you do, to refine it and improve over time. Feedback of course is key to this - without it how will you know how effective you are being.

For me there are two perhaps less obvious (particularly for our US colleagues) role models that exhibit some great leadership qualities:-

Alex Ferguson, Manager of Manchester United Football Team, not soccer ;-)

Alex is the probably the best manager in the history of world football having won more trophies than anyone else in English Football, with 21 years and 1000 matches of experience under his belt. In this time Manchester United has remained successful with numerous changes to the players over the years. The one thing that has stayed constant is him.

As with all great leaders Alex delights in the success of his team. He sets the direction, gets them 'on the bus' and instils such a strong belief in their ability that success is an inevitability. His passion for Man Utd is ferocious even after all these years. Witness him jumping for joy or spitting out his chewing gum - the reaction is always there! He protects and promotes his team at every opportunity but is never the one that takes the credit.

Whilst not a glamourous role model, Florence was an incredible leader and change agent - she left a massive wake wherever she went.

Florence lived in a time where women really were second class citizens and where war was a place only for men. Despite this Florence used her own influencing skills and sheer tenacity to force through changes in the nursing practices for soldiers fighting at the front lines. Her continuing efforts around health, nursing and hygiene saved not only thousands of lives but laid the foundations for general nursing practice around the world. An incredibily driven woman, Florence was never satisfied with her achievements and in true humble fashion is buried in her local church near Romsey in Hampshire. This is despite being awarded the Freedom of London and being the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit.

Both of these role models have achieved amazing things because they have been able to:
  • Paint a compelling picture

  • Move people to take action

  • Guide emotions and passion

  • Manage and maintain energy

For me they demonstrate the 'how' of leadership rather than the 'what'.

What does being a leadership role model mean for you?

(For more Great Leadership tips check out the new Leadership Development Carnival)

No comments: