Leadership Lesson 01: You Can Make a Difference as a Role Model

Leadership Lesson 01:
You Can Make a Difference as a Role Model

Kouzes and Posner have spent years studying leadership through research, surveys, and interviews. One of the questions they asked people was about their role models. Who were the role models that influenced us for leadership? The chart above is reproduced from their book, The Truth About Leadership, page 9.

There are some striking facts in this chart.

First, notice who the people are that we turn to as role models for leadership. They are the people who are closest to us. The ones with whom we do life. The people who are positioned to impact us up close with their character, values, wisdom, stories and relationship.

Second, notice who is least important. To say least important is almost an understatement. They are virtually non-existent in terms of being a role model for leadership. It is the athletes, entertainers and various celebrities of our culture. The ones that the celebrity driven media are constantly putting before us. It turns out that we are not impressed with those people. We see their values, beliefs, outrageous behaviors, and narcissistic displays. As much as we may be "entertained" by them, we know their way is not a good way. 

Third, a special note about the business leader category needs mentioned. In the vast majority of cases, the person in mind was an immediate supervisor and not a leader in upper management (like a CEO, CFO, or COO). Again, it comes back to the people who are close to us.

There is a powerful lesson here for us. We can make a real difference as a role model. We are all positioned (closely) to a group of people. We do life with them. We interact with them constantly. We have a place of importance in the lives of these people. For good or for bad, we make a difference.

We have the opportunity to make a very good difference.

Be aware, intentional and strategic about the role model influence you have TODAY.


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International