Learning Through Role Models
Role Models in the Workplace
There is no template for role modelling, but you can, as a leader promote an organisational culture which is a learning one in which many people of all walks in the organisation can become role models. Role models can have many different functions in an organisation:
- As part of the induction of new members of staff
- As a teacher or coach to improve performance
- As an ambassador or promoter of company values
- As a model for promoting diversity
These are very different types of role models. Some role models motivate others to work better or develop ambition – a female leader or a person with a disability might motivate others with similar traits to strive to be their best. Others may encourage imitation modelling. This may be particularly true of a person in the early days of their career with an organisation.
How Can You Be A Good Role Model In Your Leadership Role?
Firstly, as a leader you should show a love of learning and being prepared to change the well-worn path of habit for something new, push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Be resilient, pick yourself up when you have a shock. Demonstrate that whilst bad stuff happens to everyone at some point, it is the reaction to it which is different. Be humane but be the reaction you want from others. So, get used to forgiving people and building bridges. Energy spent on negative feelings drags you down. Show how you can get on with people but you don’t have to like them or agree with them. Tell stories which crystallise the essence of leadership for you – Shakespeare’s Henry Vth is a good one, though take care not to be too high brow, or low brow and never choose tragic a hero or heroine. Lastly, be prepared to learn from your team!
Dos And Don’ts Of Being A Good Leadership Role Model
- DO Give praise often
- Don’t criticise a team member in front of others
- DO Take responsibility for mistakes
- Avoid labelling a person, focus on the behaviour
- DO Make your feedback to staff useful and actionable
Cruess,S; Cruess, R & Sternert, Y (2008) Role modelling, making the most of a powerful teaching strategy. BMJ 2008
Filstad, C, (2004) “How newcomers use role models in organizational socialization”, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 16 Issue: 7, pp.396-409, 8; 336:718
Macaulay, S. (2010). Are you a good role model? www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/p14216/Think-Cranfield/2010/February-2010/Are-you-a-good-role-model