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Daily Leadership Thought #160 – Whether You Like It Or Not, You Are A Role Model

June 24, 2011

Free Grandfather Hiking with Grandson Stock Photo

Once you assume an authority position you are a role model – like it or not.

One of the more troubling developments in society today is the abdication of personal responsibility.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with my clients and colleagues about accountability issues.  It’s as if the average person these days thinks that if they are doing what they perceive to be their best, then that should be good enough.  Moreover, when their judgment is lacking or they make a mistake, it is simply shrugged off and explained away with minimal or no remorse.  Rarely does anyone admit mistakes these days and then step up to make things right.

It all starts at the top.  Whether you are a politician, government official, leading hedge fund executive, Wall Street banker, corporate CEO, small business owner, college president, sports coach, professional athlete, teacher, parent, etc., your actions do matter!  Strong ethics aren’t a luxury but a requirement of any well-run business, organization, community, classroom, and family.  Behaviors do have consequences.  And, even though you may win in the short-term by always putting your needs first, not playing by the rules or stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable. It will catch up with you and sadly have adverse consequences for others in your life.

Leadership is primarily about responsibility.  By the very nature of the position, you have chosen to become a role model.  You ARE responsible to the people who work with, follow, or depend on you.   They pay close attention to what you say and what you do to see if there are any contradictions.   They have put their fate in your hands.  You set the tone in terms of the culture, overall attitude and how people interact and treat one another.   The group will either aspire to great things, push themselves to achieve, and think like a winning team, or shrink into the darker territory of non-performance, back-biting, and self-doubt.   Life should never be perceived as a win-lose proposition.

Whether you are responsible for 100,000 people or just one, it doesn’t matter.  Every day we can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.   If you have chosen the path of leadership, the world should be a better place because of your efforts (no matter how small).   Embrace being a role model.  Never forget that the ripple you create by tossing a pebble in the ocean can travel great distances…